Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 11, 2018


One good way to encourage your preacher


            E. Stanley Jones used to say preachers should read the parable of the sower at least once a year. Doing so will remind them that at least some of their hearers will be “good ground” and allow the seed of God’s word to produce fruit for the kingdom.

            Preachers, like most people, need hope that their work is not in vain. They know that a lot of preaching falls on deaf ears. They know the stabbing pain of seeing a parishioner sound asleep when they are passionately preaching the gospel. In every church there are some folks who look, to the preacher, like they are painted on the pews. No matter how motivating the preacher’s sermon, those people sit still, stone-faced and silent, never cracking a smile or giving any sign of being alive. When the worship service ends, they wake up and walk out without a word.

            Some preaching, I will admit, is so dull that it puts people to sleep. I have preached many sleep-inducing sermons myself. More than once I have had a parishioner to call me at 2 o’clock in the morning and say, “Pastor, I can’t sleep; please preach to me for a few minutes so I can go to sleep.” Preaching can, indeed, be mind-numbing. Uninspiring preaching can cause a church to feel like a mortuary.

            I love the story about the woman who passed out in church, apparently having died of a heart attack. The ushers called 911 and the paramedics arrived quickly. But unfortunately they carried eleven people out of the sanctuary before they found the right one.

Perhaps it was the preaching that caused those folks to look like they had passed out. But while preachers need to preach sermons that keep people awake, it is also true that the people in the pews can stimulate better preaching when they look alive.

So when next you sit in a pew, look alive! That is a great way to encourage your preacher. At least smile now and then even if you don’t laugh when the preacher says something clever. Save your poker face for your next card game. Refuse to look like you were painted on that pew. Look like you are listening! As though you expect God to speak to you through the words of your pastor. He can, you know.

But for goodness sake, don’t get too excited. Look alive but remain calm. If you suddenly shout “Amen!” or “Preach it Brother!” the preacher may have a heart attack and then there really would be someone for the paramedics to carry out.  + + +