Is The Pulpit Losing Power
Written By: Bishop G.T. Haywood
Published by: Voice In The Wilderness (1924)
The Above subject was given as a heading to an article that recently appeared in a Sunday paper in the middle west, and its logic and wisdom was so forceable that it greatly impressed the writer to pass it on to the readers of The Voice in The Wilderness. Truth is truth, no matter from what source it comes. God’s ways are past finding out.
The time is come that the word of god must be heard. As says Mr. Robertson, the author of the above article, “The cold, illogical, unthinking, wishy-washy pulpit is evidently passing away. So also is the ultra-denominational and sectarian pulpit. There is too much gospel light in the world today for such pulpits. The sensational pulpit still draws but it makes few converts to Christianity.”
What the modern ministry needs today is the Holy Ghost, and in the words of the author, “the pulpit will glow with a divine unction almost, if not altogether, irresponsible.” There is no getting around it, the church’s greatest need is the Holy Spirit of God. Let men say what they will, it cannot be denied, that the God of early days of Christianity is just the same today.
Mr. Robinson goes on to say, “The people go to church to hear the gospel and not a dry dissertation on current topics. Wherever the gospel is preached in its fullness, there the pulpit is growing in power.”
We shall present our readers a symposium on the foregoing subject by a score or more eminent ministers:
“Though the word has gone forth that the people are through with the parson, nevertheless the facts show that the people never wanted the parson so badly as they do today and were never more willing to pay so much for his services.”
“Routine preaching will never wake up a sleepy Christian, or smite with conviction a resisting sinner, but the gospel of Christ it still the wisdom and power of God unto salvation, and wherever it is preached it creates a stir.”
“Of all the professions for young men to look forward to, I do not know another one that seems to have such a scope before it in the future as preaching.”
“The greatest years of the pulpit are to come. The printing press is a mighty power, but the printed page will never super cede the living voice.”
“The economic and political struggles of modern society are, in the last analysis, religious struggles - their sole solution, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ set forth through the human voice. Hence, there will always be an imperative need for the gospel minister.”
“The question of Daniel Webster is still pertinent: ‘Where have the life-giving waters of civilization sprung up, save in the track of the Christian ministry?’ Neither philosophy nor science has ever delivered men from the dominion of superstition or the horrors of idolatry. The Gospel and the Gospel alone, effects this. It is God’s way of emancipating the whole man, and it will be more effective till the last redeemed soul is gathered in.”
Nine Reasons for Infidelity
“There are nine reasons why the pulpit is not as effective today as it might be, though I believe it is more effective than it ever was before:
“1. - Evolution has in some places taken the place of regeneration.
“2. - Scientific proof has been looked for rather than faith in God.
“3. - Things of time have crowded out the thing of eternity.
“4. - The church is occupied with externalism that is not spirit-born.
“5. - The church is ruled by her wishes rather than by her needs.
“6. - Emphasis is laid on the quantity rather than the quality of church work.
“7. - Ministers are burdened with administrative problems rather than with sin stricken souls.
“8. - Ministers think more about their preaching than the things preached.
“9. - Ministers are more troubled about their popularity than about God’s purposes.”
How can the pulpit be made more effective?
1. “By being more independent and spiritual. Preachers cringe too much. They need more Christian heroism. “They should speak out. Let them speak to the people all the words of this life, whether they will hear or forbear. The printed truth cuts with a sharp edge, the spoken truth burns as well as cuts. Let the truth burn.”
2. “By being more doctrinal. Bring out, things in order, and constantly emphasize the great and vital truths of the gospel. Great truths produce great thoughts, and great thoughts make great men. The declaration of God is the highest and best reason we can have for believing anything. Give the people God’s truth. They are always the best and always effective.”
3. “Mighty is the written word of God, but the word never conquered until it was made flesh. A man’s force in this world, other things being equal, is just in the ratio of the force and the strength of his heart. A full-hearted man is always a powerful man. Let the gospel become incarnated in the preacher and then out of a full heart let him speak, and his pulpit will be a conquering power.”
4. “The fires are burning low on many altars because preachers wander away from the cross, or veil its magnetic attractions with the speculations of men. Get back to the cross; present, explain and emphasize its fundamental truths and the pulpit will be the power of God. The people want to know about the atonement.”
5. “Truly I am, saith the prophet, ‘Full of power by the spirit of the Lord.’ Here is, after all, the best way of making the pulpit more effective. Let the minister be filled with the Holy Ghost and the pulpit will glow with a divine unction almost, if not altogether, irresistible.”
6. “It is said that Demosthenes told Athens only what Athens knew, that he simply blew upon the people’s hearts and kindled them into a flame. So was it with Peter on the day of Pentecost. What the people most need is not so much new truth, as new and more vivid conceptions of the truth they already have. Give them this, and the pulpit will be admired, and loved and glorified in, as a mighty saving power.”
7. “The pulpit would be more effective if the accessories of the pulpit were better and more in accordance with the dignity, importance and spirituality of the heavenly themes discussed. Many a good sermon has been spoiled by a silly anthem, or foolish, fashion plate choir, a general spirit of irreverence, or awkward gesture, or flippant remarks, or something else in itself very trivial. Effectiveness is gained by watching these things.
8. “The pulpit would be more effective if professing Christians would stop their criticizing and go to work to save souls. On the contrary, it has many out of the kingdom. A God-fearing soul-loving, constantly praying, always-active and peaceable church makes the pulpit a power.
9. “Talk it up. Speak well of the church and its services, its pastor and its choir, its forms of worship and its missionary efforts. Tell to others the help it has been to you and the good you have received from attendance on its ordinances. If all members of the church would do this, if they would speak as kindly of the church and its services as some of them do of their lodge or social gatherings, what a power for good the church would be. Just try it.”
What Preaching Best
What kind of preaching is best adapted to the needs of our day?
1. POSITIVE. “The preacher should be certain of his facts. ‘Pillow my head on no guess when I am dying.’ Believe your beliefs, and doubts, give the people the facts, clear and concise. The power of the truth is the only thing in this country to regulate the religious principles. Out, therefore with the whole truth.”
2. UNCTUOUS. “No preacher can expect that others in this energetic age will be brought under the influence of the gospel, when the preacher’s own feelings are flat and stale. The symbol of a conquering church is a flame of fire. Be filled, therefore, with the spirit, and then stand and speak all the words of this life.”
3. INTELLIGENT. :Christianity can never rise higher in any community than the intellectual character of its teachers. It takes more and better brains to be a successful preacher today than it ever did before. Men must be convinced before they can be persuaded. Knowledge, not ignorance, is what convinces thinking men.:
4. SCRIPTUAL. “The state of the church and of the world requires that more attention in our preaching be given to the Bible. It is the preacher’s only text book. God has placed no other in his hand. It is his imperative duty to preach the Bible, and nothing but the Bible. This is what our age most needs. If God has spoken, the people want to know it, and want to know just what He has said.”
5. ENERGETIC. “God may, by way of a miracle, raise a man to life by the bones of a dead prophet, but we are not to expect Him to work miracles to supply our lack of exertion. Ardent feelings, devoted piety, and indefatigable industry are the unalterable conditions of success in the minister’s calling. The world will never be converted without great sacrifices and great labor.”
6. COMMON SENSE. “In the great work of promoting religion there never yet has been employed half as much common sense as the case calls for. While the religion which it is the minister’s province to teach is unchangeable, the methods of presenting it are almost endless. It is only by Christianity showing in a very practical way its vital connection with every day concerns of average men and women, that can vindicate its lofty claims. Let the minister show that ‘godliness is profitable unto all things having promise of the life that now is, and of the which is to come.’”
7. PERSONAL. “Daniel Webster spoke not only for himself, but for a mighty multitude of hungry souls when he said, ‘When a man preaches to me I want him to make a personal matter of it.’ Christ saves the world by saving the individual.
Let everyone under the minister’s preaching feel I am the poor sinner Jesus came to save.”
8. JOYFUL. “Every preacher should take the great jubilee trumpet and sound such sweet notes of heavenly melody as shall, adim all the din and bustle and turmoil of this gross, materialistic age, be heard waxing louder and still louder, until every discordant sound shall be overpowered by the rapturous hosannas of a redeemed world.”
9. ATTRACTIVE. “The power that saves is the power of attraction. ‘I if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ The truth must not only be spoken, but it must be spoken in love. Love draws. It always has, and always will. Even the faith that saves is the faith that works by love. Love is everything. Let the voice of the pulpit be the voice of love and there will always be some hearts ready to respond to its call.”
After reading the foregoing article there is no minister filled with the Holy Ghost who cannot see what an opportunity lies ahead for them to carry the true gospel to a dying world. There is a thirsting in the human heart for reality. The Spirit of God is falling, but many around about us know it not. There are pulpits scattered everywhere from which the word of God is preached with an unction that is irresistible. The harvest is white. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He may send forth laborers into the harvest.