Friday, March 13, 2009

Riding with the Anyabwiles

Driving home from Bible study Wednesday night, my wife and I began discussing a pastor friend who is encountering significant resistance to his ministry of consecutive exposition. At one point things turned into a family discussion as follows:

Mom: Girls, can you believe that some people don't want to hear their pastors explain the Bible to them?

Youngest girl [incredulous]: So, what's the point of going to church?

Dad: Exactly.

Mom [graciously]: Well, some people would rather hear the pastor tell them how to do certain things and tell them entertaining stories.

Oldest girl [perplexed]: What?

Dad: Like how to parent, how to communicate with your wife, and so on.

Oldest girl: I don't understand. Isn't the Bible full of things like that if you just keep preaching through it?

Dad [triumphant]: Yep. You understand it quite well. When you grow up and move away, be sure to find a church that's dedicated to preaching the word of God like that.

If my 9 and 10 year olds get it, I wonder why it's so difficult for adult pastors to understand.


Paul Nevergall said...

Thanks for allowing us to ride along!

Doc said...

For those pastors (i.e., Arminians) who feel it's their personal responsibility to convince listeners to accept the biblical message, there might be a sense that they simply can't expect listeners to stick it out, week after week, until the preacher eventually gets to that "relevant" stuff.

Anonymous said...

children are classically beautiful in their innocence.

Anonymous said...

Is it really fair to say the people don't want their pastor to explain the Bible to them? Or are there other factors? How long does he stay in particular book? How competent is the pastor at exposing the Word? I sat through a months long series on Acts years ago that was stultifyingly dull and reduced one of the most exciting books in the Bible to something to be endured every Sunday. I think there are great benefits to consecutive exposition, but deviating from that (as long as you are grounded in the text) for periods of time is not necessarily wrong or harmful.

And Pastor, was that conversation and characterization of that church of great benefit to your children ? Just asking.

FellowElder said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment. In the particular situation we were discussing, yes, it would be fair to say that some people don't want the Bible explained to them. In this case, the man is an exceptional expositor and I don't know that he ever preached a boring sermon. And I could list off a number of other cases that weren't as bad as this but had all the same markings for some of the people.

Now, let me hasten to agree with you in saying that other factors matter as well. Making Acts a bore is a real feat. And the occassoinal topical or systematic series is fine. But those weren't the issues, really. When a group of people in a church lead a public and nasty campaign to remove a man who many, many people are joyfully benefitting from because they don't want exposition, then it's fair to say there are real spiritual problems at work there. The mildest thing to say is that they don't want the Bible explained to them.

And, yes, I hope and trust that conversation and characterization was of benefit to my children. From the earliest times, I want them to give heed to the word of God, desire it, treasure it, love preachers who are faithful to it (even the occassionally boring ones), and never, never settle for paltry substitutes or gather with those who have itching ears and heap up to themselves preachers who tell them only what they want to hear. That's my prayer and aim anyway.

I'm no perfect father. And this was all of a 10 second exchange. And I'm always willing and eager to learn how to impart spiritual lessons in 10-second settings or much longer ones. So, how would/do you instruct your children when it comes to listening to sermons and evaluating a church's preaching ministry? Happy to have more tools in the belt.

Grace and peace,

S.D. Smith said...

Your story is a joyful spring in the wilderness of hollow preaching.

I am so tired of the "top ten ways to encourage your teen" as a REPLACEMENT for biblical, chronological, exegetical teaching.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anyabwile,
Thank you for your example in letting us into your ride with your family. It is a good reminder that in those 10 second conversations to make the most of the opportunities given us with our kids to lead them in the way they should go. Thank you for your ministry to your church, to other pastors and to us in the cyber world with your blog.

samurai said...

If a man such as yourself doesn't understand why other "adult pastors" don't understand... i doubt i ever will.

This has been something that has perplexed and concerned me for sometime.

Thank you for bringing us along this short trip...

Anonymous said...


And all other pastors, who know the charge given in 1timothy4:13-16

as well as 2tim4:1-4, have no option, as to the call and responsibility, of expository, preaching and teaching.

No option! Anything else, is prophesied, as the itchy ear stuff,to be avoided, at the pain of being utterly condemned by the great shepherd. Heb13/Luke12/Jer23

I have experienced, both as a congregational member, and now as a pastor for over 15rs, the wonder, blessing and profit, of the steady, careful, and progessive devleopment of books of the bible.

My elder is presently teaching out of the gospel of John. He has been there for 2yrs. He is in the 18th chapter. If you were to listen to him, you would find depth, insight, pracitical application, etc.

I am on my 3rd year in Romans. We are in the 11th chapter. We have a gathering of over an hundred plus people every friday night, from all over the bay area,and growing! Because men and women WANT depth.

To break away, as Thabiti has stated, is proper from time to time. And to address issues of a topical nature is often a sign of pastoral care.

But, to merely entertain people, and to try to keep the attention of the flesh, is self defeating!

A little leaven leavens the whole lump!

And by the way, I also, have 6 daughters, who would have, in their youth: most of them know grown,and in the Church, loving Christ, and still listening to Dad, expound to them the scriptures, the good old fashion way,would have said precisely what Thabiti's daughters said.

It's right, and it works!

To be boring, is another issue!

That may or may not be a spiritual issue. But condisering Thabiti's response and explanation, it appears that part of that flock has fallen for the latest paradigm of ministry, and purpose driven philosophy.

The part of the flock that is hungry for the Word of God, must be ready to break with the other and move forward in growth and service as a body with one mind, goal, and message, and that is Christ and Him Crucified.

God often raises up new and faithful works this way.

By Grace,Alone!

Hayden said...

Good insight and encouragement Thabiti. Look forward to hearing you at Ligonair (sp?) this week.