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Pastor's Commentary

Posted by Tim :: Tim's thoughts

I actually wanted to start this early in the week, but what a week this week has been. It has been nothing but phenomenal to have Tom Short here these past three days, but it has left me tired and very behind. Oh well, I have a perfect vacation coming up soon... HEAVEN!

What I plan on doing for quite some time is make commentary on Stonebrook Community Church's series "The Cross". No matter how long a Sunday morning message is I never can say all that I originally was planning on saying. So I plan on sharing an abbreviated form of it here, as well as some insider thoughts.

I knew last week's message, "The Cross: A Primer" was going to be difficult. Not because of the material, necessarily, but because of the intended audience. Most Christians that engage in church life for any reasonable length of time develop a condition that I call "pastor block". It's this amazing ability to hear a sermon and yet not really think about it or internalize it. It's the "everybody's challenge is nobody's challenge" idea taken to another level.

Anyway, this "pastor block" phenomenon hits its peak whenever a Christian realizes that the gospel is being shared. As soon as that's detected, the brain shuts down, the eyes glaze over, and they think, "this is not for me".

There lies my problem... the gospel I was sharing last Sunday was primarily intended to hit the believer (though I hoped that the unbeliever would catch it as well). To prevent "pastor block" (or at least minimize it), I took the approach of answering questions about the cross that should be obvious to all Christians, but apparently are not. The question "Why did Jesus have to die on a cross" for example, has been brought to my attention time and again for over 20 years as a question that Christians can not intelligently, biblically answer.

So it was an academic approach. After the first service, I noticed something: My motivator was, well, not very motivational. My call to take notes appeared to be taken seriously by about 1/4 of the audience... and most of them were young people (God bless them!).

After talking with Brad, he suggested I include an emotional motivator as well. He suggested I comment on how a cross-centered life radically increases the quality of your life. Joy, power, peace, forgiveness... stuff like that.

So I made that change, and issued my call to take notes. The response was far more encouraging, but at the same time I was far more sensitive to "pastor block" so I simply called a spade a spade and warned people not to go there. I suspect it was a little surprising for people to hear that, but that was the point. Shock people out of their mental lethargy and think at church for a change.

This coming Sunday should be different. The whole thing is a story. An autobiography on how the cross is not a 2000 year ago historical curiosity, but a powerful living reality that changed a man's life. Since a pastor won't be speaking, everyone's mental alertness should maintain a relatively conscious level. :- )


This morning was good. Also a good promo for the celebrate recovery group.

I have been prompted (by greg vanNada) to share the gospel a lot more with other christians simply for the sake of sharing the basic life transforming truth that God accepts all people regardless of where they are at... I think I'll blog about it. tomorrow.

Posted by: paul at September 19, 2004 07:38 PM

i was a little suprised by your call for everyone in the audience to not settle for the pastor block - but i listened and it helped me to focus. i also was encouraged by your reminder to take notes. it isn't that i don't like taking notes... i just sometimes forget. i thought of your message a few times during the week as i left my notes in the car. good stuff tim - i was encouraged by your message. thanks. leah

Posted by: leah at September 20, 2004 10:47 AM

Heh Tim, I just wanted to share something interesting about the church here in Honduras... no matter which of the pastors is speaking, they find a way to share the Gospel in every single message, call people who haven't yet to accept Christ, pray the salvation prayer in the middle of there message and than continue on with whatever they were talking about. And I think they see people saved most Sundays. A couple weeks ago, we were supposed to have our eyes closed(which I didn't quite catch because it was in Spanish) and several people raised their hands acknowledging that they had just accepted Christ! With responses like that every Sun., it would be hard to get tired of hearing the Gospel!!

Posted by: Jamie at September 20, 2004 07:01 PM

Hi Jamie! What you’re talking about has been on the forefront of the pastor's minds. The cross (gospel) is the central message of the Bible. Everything else hangs off of it.
So the question I've been wrestling over is: how can the message of the cross be a part of every message without it getting lost and devalued due to the frequency? Like that old phrase warns, "Familiarity breeds contempt."

Posted by: Tim at September 22, 2004 11:14 AM