Starving Church Congregations

By David J. Stewart | February 2014

Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

       There is an epidemic of starving church congregations across America and the world. By “starving” I mean churches who gather each Sunday to sing and worship, but then the short sermonette that follows is so lacking in substance that no one really gets anything from the sermon's message. In such churches there is often confusion about the meaning of repentance. There are often numerous believers who struggle with doubts about their salvation. There's usually an outstanding music program. Due to a lack of Biblical preaching against sin and gossip, needless problems arise in these type of churches and go unchecked (which is exactly what happened to the carnal church at Corinth; read 1st Corinthians).

There's nothing worse than a weak church that is soft on sin. There's nothing worse than an immature church where the pastor doesn't feed his people. I recently heard the man of God, Evangelist Phil Kidd, preach a needful sermon titled, When Jesus Is In The House, in which he says, “Only babies need to be fed.” Brother Kidd said this in response to a church member who accused their pastor of not feeding them. Only babies need to be fed! Each of us ought to listen to preaching at home! On average I listen to dozens of sermons throughout the week. Most churches today are shallow when it comes to preaching. They have a great music program, but are lackadaisical in the area of preaching.

Sadly, most believers in today's churches are BABIES. 1st Corinthians 3:1, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” The fact of the matter is that most people are spiritual big babies. They NEED to be fed. Sadly, even amongst my faithful web visitors, the hyperlinks which receive the least hits are the sermons that I post in my recent section. My enemies read all my articles, hoping to find something juicy to spread gossip. My friends read my articles (thank you), but still rarely listen to the sermons. The YouTube counters hardly move for many of the sermons. It just shows the lack of spiritual desire in Christians today. I listen to sermons in my car. I listen to sermons around the house. I listen to sermons before and after church. Sermons will keep you close to the Lord, if they are Bible-centered sermons by genuine men of God (which is all that I promote).

I hear so many lame teachers on the radio, young and old alike, who couldn't preach their way out of a paper bag if their life depended on it. They are teachers, NOT preachers!!! Preaching is truth set on fire. Truth in the pulpit melts the ice in the pew. I don't know which is more nauseating, Chip Ingram's corrupt understanding of repentance or John MacArthur perverting the meaning of Jesus' blood. The average new convert has no idea of the epidemic of apostasy in this generation, because they've never been blessed to see the real thing. Bless God, we need some Billy Sunday type preachers in this generation! We need more Jack Hyles and Frank J. Norris type preachers! Thank God for all pastors, but America is not going to be reached unless we have some Billy Sunday, Jack Hyles and John the Baptist type leather-lung, hell-fire and damnation, uncompromising preachers who proclaim THE TRUTH!!!

The purpose of the Church is NOT to educate people; but rather, to disciple people. That is, to lead them into discipleship to follow the Lord, even as we follow the Lord obediently. 1st Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Don't ever preach yourself too far from the cross. Reach back often and make much of Jesus and you'll never go wrong doing that.

“The Bible is an amazing Book! When you're down, it'll lift you up. When you're up, it'll bring you down. When you're in, it'll get you out. When you're out, it'll bring you in!”

Pastors Ought To Preach The Entire Word Of God

Most of today's preaching is half-baked, that is, most of the messages we hear these days are about relationships, tithing and love; but you'll hardly ever hear about sin, judgment and eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. Many ministers speak about finance, missions and community outreach; but there's no preaching against women wearing pants, gossip in the church or the evils of television. The reason is because today's preachers are watching television. The reason is because today's pastor's wives wear pants. The reason is because today's carnal churches are saturated with malicious gossip. There's a common subtle form of gossip in churches that is shielded behind a pretense of praying for a brother or sister. Oh shut up!!! Pray in private for that person!

Doctrine is a systematic orderly arrangement of truth. Here is a helpful list of eight key doctrines of the New Testament Church:

  1. BIBLIOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalms 119:160; Revelation 22:19; Romans 15:4)

  2. THEOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning God (Ephesians 4:6; Jeremiah 10:10; Matthew 18:19; Philippians 2:5-6).

  3. ANTHROPOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning the fall of man (Genesis 3:4-6; Genesis 8:21; Psalms 14:1-7; Romans 5:12).

  4. CHRISTOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning the virgin birth (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Galatians 4:4).

  5. SOTERIOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning atonement for sin (Ephesians 2:8; John 3:16; Hebrews 9:12-15; 1 John 2:2).

  6. ECCLESIOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning the church (Acts 2:41-42; 1 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:11).

  7. ANGELOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning angels, demons and Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17; Revelation 12:9).

  8. ESCHATOLOGY - Our beliefs concerning the end times (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 24:29-32; Revelation 20:11-15).

May I say, there are about 30 subjects that every pastor ought to regularly present to his people; namely, the cross (gospel), the inspiration of the Bible, persistence in prayer and fasting, the imminent return of Jesus Christ at the pretribulation Rapture, obedience to Christ (Jesus' Holy Spirit lives a holy life through us as we obey the Holy Bible), the doctrine of Christ (blood of Jesus, virgin birth, et cetera), brotherly love, preaching against sin by name (i.e., abortion, adultery, stealing, et cetera), preaching the gospel, personal soul-winning, church ordinances (water baptism and Lord's Supper), obedience to God-ordained higher authority, supporting missionary work and community involvement, fidelity in marriage, faithfulness to God and church, stewardship of what God gives to us, refraining from gossip, the necessity of regular church revivals, the importance and function of the local New Testament Church, rewards in Heaven and tithing, prophecy, the person of the Holy Spirit, assurance of salvation, refuting false teachings and false religion, comfort for the broken-hearted, dealing with conflicts, et cetera.

The preceding list is not conclusive and is not necessarily in any certain order. One of the biggest problems that I see in New Testament churches today is that many do not feed their people. Literally, those congregations are starving spiritually. The average church today has a great music program, but lousy preaching. The pulpit determines the spiritual barometer of the church. With few exceptions, individual members of the church congregation will not rise any higher than the spirituality of the pastor. The pastor sets the standard which the people follow. The greatest churches are those where the pastor continually uplifts the Word of God. And the worst churches are where the pastor preaches sugarstick sermonettes without the Bible. Pastor Joel Osteen is a fantastic public speaker, but a lousy and unfaithful preacher. Why? It's because he leaves off the doctrine of Christ and fails to warn sinners of coming judgment and eternal punishment in Hell fire.

I'm saddened and surprised how little the average church feeds their congregation. I've been in churches where 75% of the subjects I just mentioned weren't even mentioned. There's nothing worse than attending a church were you find a bunch of people who are insecure about their salvation, because the pastor hasn't taught them. It is nauseating to find people in the average church these days who idolize corrupted religious teachers like John MacArthur, Chip Ingram, Pat Robertson, TD Jakes and Joel Osteen. All of these men are extremely popular and tickle the ears of millions of listeners, telling them what they want to hear; but they are doctrinally corrupt, lacking the Spirit of truth and leaving off the doctrine of Christ from the Word of God.

Literally, most churches today are being led by apostate TV and radio preachers, because that's where pastors are spending their time instead of searching the Scriptures as Jesus commanded in John 5:39. Shame on any church that needs to use someone else's church lessons because they don't study for themselves. One of the woeful dangers of ministerial associations like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Evangelical Church Association (ECA) is that if the mother ship sinks, then so do all the associated smaller ships. Shame on any church who looks to a ministerial association for leadership. Member churches are required to meet certain requirements and send in an annual fee to remain in good standing.

In 1997 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) decided to ban Walt Disney because of their new annual “GAY DAY.” SBC church members were prohibited from attending Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney laughed in their faces. In 2001 the SBC reiterated their position, continuing their ban against Disney. Again, Disney laughed in their faces and continued to promote and sponsor their annual GAY DAY. Sadly, due to pressure from member churches whose families were demanding permission to attend Walt Disney World, the Southern Baptist Convention sold out in 2005 and lifted their ban against Walt Disney. APOSTASY!!! God hasn't lifted His ban against Walt Disney!!! Homosexuality is a horrible sin which compelled God to destroy the city of Sodom, as an example of what will happen to all wicked sinners (Jude 1:7).

Few preachers, pastors and Bible teachers will denounce the sin of feminism, for fear of losing financial support. Few churches will preach against sin, because they don't want to drive people away. America has become so apostate that some groups have even taken community surveys prior to starting a church, asking people what they want from a church, and then giving the community the apostate so-called “church” they want to ensure a successful business. That's no church. The purpose of the Church is not to educate people; but rather, to DISCIPLE them to trust and follow the Savior Jesus Christ.

Disciple Believers To Live By Faith And They'll Give Cheerfully

The purpose of the Church is not to educate people; but rather, to DISCIPLE them. A disciple is a born-again believer who follows Jesus Christ. John 8:31, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”

Phooey on preaching that puts high-pressure on people to give or else God is going to burn down their house, cause them to lose their job and kill their children. Literally, that's the lame theology that some ministers teach. The Bible says that “the GOODNESS OF GOD leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4), not His wrath and judgment here on earth. God's judgment comes later in eternity for those who disobey the gospel, rejecting the conviction of the Holy Spirit and saying no to receiving Jesus as the Christ, as your personal Savior (2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9).

There's nothing worse than a pastor who harps on tithing every service. If you teach the congregation about Heaven, obedience and laying up treasures in Heaven, they'll want to give. People will give less the more you browbeat them about tithing. Lead by example, not with a whip and rod. Pastors ought to lead by example and faith in God, not by wrath, bullying and manmade tactics. Build up the church through faith in God's Spirit, preaching the truth, hard work and earnest prayer. I've learned in my life that any pastor who has to harp on the 10% philosophy all the time doesn't know how to motivate people with the truth of God's Word!!!

Debt Leveraging For An Eternal Lifestyle (money and things test where our affections rest)

Preach The Word Or Go Sit Down!

Titus 1:3, “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”

I've been in plenty of churches where I got absolutely nothing from the sermon message and it was nauseating. Some preachers couldn't preach their way out of a paper bag. Preaching is truth set on fire! Something is very wrong with any professed man of God and preacher who speaks softly concerning sin, never calling sins by name, and never shouting against the Devil (calling him a lying, good for nothing, bum). Pastors have a Biblical duty and mandate to FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD. 2nd Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Every pastor ought to work diligently to feed the flock. Notice that the flock belongs to God and not the pastor. God purchased the Church with His own blood.”

Pastor Jack Hyles faithfully fed his church congregation with the Word of God like few pastors ever have throughout the history of the New Testament Church. God gifted Brother Hyles with a unique way of assimilating complicated subject matter and simplifying it into easy-to-understand terms that even a child could understand and be blessed of by the Lord.

Someone once asked Dwight L. Moody what should be done about people sleeping during church, to which Moody wisely replied, “WAKE UP THE PREACHER!!!” I'm not against expository style preaching like Spurgeon was famous for, or narrative style preaching as R.G. Lee. That's who God made them! I love all preachers, regardless of their style, just so long as they have something to say worth hearing, and it's Biblically sound. I prefer the teaching style of Dr. John R. Rice, and mostly the dogmatic styles of Billy Sunday and Pastor Hyles. The best preachers, like Dr. Hyles, used all preaching styles, depending on the application and audience.

I have often wanted to stand up during a dead-beat preacher's sermonette and say, “GO SIT DOWN!” Some preachers sound like the annoying voice on Charlie Brown (you remember when you were a kid... Wha, wha, wha-wha, wha, wha). Thank Heaven for men of God who are filled with the Holy Spirit and still “PREACH THE WORD” (2nd Timothy 4:2).

Feed The Flock With Biblical Truth

I recently had the blessed opportunity to encourage a brother in the Lord who has battled with doubts about his salvation over the years. I shared some truths from the Scriptures which have helped me over the years to settle any doubts I used to have about being saved. The first thing I learned is that it is not “my salvation”; but rather, “God's salvation.” God does the saving, not man. In the belly of the whale Jonah pondered the great theological truth... “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD” (Jonah 2:9). Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Whew, that's good stuff! Amen!

As I spoke with this gentleman about his doubts concerning salvation, we shared some more Scriptures and encouraged each other in the Lord. Then he told me afterwards that he wished more churches would teach the things I had taught him. I immediately concurred and told him that so many churches today don't feed their people. Many churches are following the apostate neo-evangelical mess, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH, authored by Pastor Rick Warren. Basically, their new method is to get rid of all the old hymns and replace them with lame so-called contemporary Christian music (CCM). Bible preaching has now been replaced with human psychology. “What saith the Scripture?” (Romans 4:3), has now been replaced by the latest New York Times Bestseller List. Few churches obey the Bible.

Starting Over (“We all have to start over once and a while!”)
—quote from the sermon, STARTING OVER by Pastor Danny Castle!!!

“Too many people let the failures of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow rob them of the joy of serving God today!”
—quote from the sermon, STARTING OVER by Pastor Danny Castle!!!

“The way to be where you ought to be tomorrow is to do what you ought to do today!” —quote from the sermon, STARTING OVER by Pastor Danny Castle!!!

Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone

“I've never seen anybody question the virgin birth, that could preach a warm sermon on the new birth. I never have! And if you can't preach on the new birth, you'll never get anybody born-again!” —Brother Lester Roloff (1914-1982), from the sermon “Steps In The Degeneration Of Our Nation.”

Revelation 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

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