Pulpit Diarrhoea

I recently suffered from diarrhoea in the pulpit. No, I don’t mean literally, and I wasn’t the preacher. It lasted 80 minutes, but by the time it had passed, I was devoid of nourishment, agitated, dehydrated, keen to leave and utterly exhausted.

Strong words, eh? Well it was one of the worst examples of preaching I had ever heard. Now I’m no preaching expert, and I allow that some preachers may lack confidence and articulation. But this was in its own evil league. Here’s why: 

First, it wasn’t based on the Bible. The speaker boasted that God had given him a certain psalm for that evening’s meeting. After the first two minutes, the text was long forgotten, as he began to cover his own agenda. So he stands accused even by own admission: if God had truly provided him that passage, why pay it such scant attention?

Second, the Lord Jesus was conspicuous by His general absence. In eighty-minutes’ worth of spiel, He received two inconsequential references, which might have been removed for what little they added to the general message. How can a Christian sermon not be about the blessed Saviour to whom we owe so much?

Third, the speaker was very conspicuous by his presence. He used the personal pronoun ‘I’ hundreds of times. We heard of his career, we heard of his home’s decoration, we heard of the conferences at which he spoke, we heard of his family background. I know a great deal about that man now. Sadly, such information will not serve me well as I wrestle ‘gainst sin and the flesh.  

Fourth, the speaker massaged the congregation’s pride. He began by asking two questions, to which my fellow hearers generally responded with affirmative shouts and claps:

“Who wants to SEE signs and wonders?”

“Who wants to PERFORM signs and wonders?”

Sure, why not?! A few miracles and supernatural events would make it a weekend to remember. And..and…and…if little ol’ me were to be the one up front performing them, well, that would be real swell. 

He repeatedly told us that we must ‘live under the anointing’, that we have ‘supernatural authority’, that we must ‘exercise our powers’. I should have exercised mine and gone home. 

Fifth, it was an emotional appeal to the senses and heart which bypassed the brain and the spirit. It was a stew of water and bubbles, offering little substance and strength-giving fuel.

Sixth, it included a good few porky-pies. He told us how he heard the flapping of angels’ wings when he preached; that miracles were common in the British churches until 2010 (but are now much depleted for our lack of anointing), that God regularly spoke to him, such as instructing which rooms of the house should next be decorated.

Ah yes, the house decoration. We heard so much about it, it would remiss of me to offer no further comment. Returning home at weekends to a house in need of decoration and re-plastering was, he shared, not a pleasant experience. Now with this I can sympathise. Our homes should be refuges from work and trouble, not little bastions of chaos and drudgery. Fine. Yet he confessed to wondering why God allowed this to happen. After a tiring evening of removing plasterboards, he asked God why he had lost his anointing (what does this even mean?!). Well, the Lord kindly told him he had not lost his anointing and that the house would soon be finished. I propose that any believer who assumes that life’s trials are evidence of God’s disapproval or sanction, is immature and weak in faith. It’s ok to have a weak faith, though one should seek to grow it. It’s not ok to lecture a hundred other believers on their ‘lack of anointing’ when you haven’t even passed the basics. 

I left the meeting feeling drained and anaemic. More disturbing was the round of applause he received from half the room.

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.

They make you worthless;

They speak a vision of their own heart,

Not from the mouth of the Lord.”

Jeremiah 23:16

Image by Darko Djurin from Pixabay