When The Pastor Preaches What You Don't Want To Hear

This weekend we are kicking off a new marriage series at Spanish River Church entitled, Growing A Healthy Marriage. Can I let you in on a secret? Not everyone wants to hear it! GASP! What's a pastor to do?For starters, I can understand this. When it comes to marriage, some are "over it," some are "nowhere near it," and a few want "nothing to do with it." Why should a single grandmother who has no intention of tying the knot again come to a series on marriage? Why should a student, who has barely entered puberty, need to hear about marriage? Why should a divorcee have to endure a topic that causes so much pain?

These are great questions. I've been thinking long and hard about this. While this is not the final word, I hope it will provide a biblical perspective on those times the pastor preaches on what you don't want to hear. Those who follow this blog know that I don't often should you, but here's why you really should be there:

  1. Because the church is gathering.The church gathers because God says it's good for us, not because it is convenient, or there is nothing better going on, or because we happen to like the current series. Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
  2. Because we care about the next generation.God's heart is for a generation not yet born (Psalm 78:6; 102:18). When we listen to the Word, we are always listening for ourselves and others. We learn about those things that don't interest us today so that we may be prepared to share God's Word and God's ways with the generation of tomorrow. Titus 2:3-6: "Older women likewise are to ... teach what is good, and so train the young women.... Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled."
  3. Because we need to teach the whole counsel of God.When I enter Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Store I can pick and choose my ice cream (and I'll take any chocolate/peanut butter combination they have). It is not the same way in the church. We don't pick and choose the teaching we want. We need to hear all of it -- even the tough stuff. Even the parts we don't think we need. Paul told the Ephesian elders, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:27 ESV)
  4. Because the leadership of the church feels it is important -- and they are accountable for your soul!Contrary to the spirit of the age, "obey" is not a nasty four-letter word. In a letter to early believers, the writer of Hebrews penned these words, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Hebrews 13:17 ESV). God, in his providence, has placed your leaders in your church for a reason. Supporting their teaching decisions makes their job joyful.
  5. Because God addresses specific issues in the context of community.Paul's letter to the church at Corinth is a great example of this. Paul addressed eleven individual issues to the entire church. That's interesting. Why not write eleven different letters? Because even the people who were not struggling with every problem still needed to know what God said about them.
  6. Because its not about you. Just today, someone on Twitter asked Rick Warren, "What's the most important insight you've taught on leadership?" His answer:  "It's not about you." We must all fight the spirit of individualism and consumerism that threatens the church. 2 Timothy 4:3: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions."
  7. Because God cares for you!God cares about you so much that he will have something for you in that message-- even during those times the topic is not your first choice. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." God's Word is always profitable. Always!

Yes, there are going to be those times when the pastor brings a message or a series you don't want to hear or that doesn't meet an immediate need in your life. Listen anyway! God has a blessing for you in it. And he wants you to bless others with it.

Question: Can you think of other reasons God wants us to listen -- even in those times we would rather be doing something else? You can leave a comment by clicking here.