I have told our church countless times, "doctrine matters." It is a point that we make explicitly clear to our leadership. Where our church will be at culturally is determined by our doctrine. And many today have grown so accustomed to a doctrinal and cultural drift in churches that often, we do not even recognize it.
Have you ever noticed, it frequently seems, that the Scripture text has little to do with the sermon? It gets everything started, but you never hear from it again. We hastily read a few verses, hoping the congregation does not get bored, and then tell an exciting story to win the crowd back. Unfortunately, the Word of God gets pushed aside for a motivational speech. This slow erosion to become more palatable has caused preaching to be based less on His Word and has caused doctrine to drift in many churches today.
"But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." - Titus 1:3
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" - 2 Timothy 4:2
Preaching is to make known God's Word. It cannot be hidden anymore; our world is floundering morally, ethically, and spiritually because we have become focused on pleasing men and have ignored God. Fear in the pulpit has caused ignorance in the pews. Churches have fed junk food to the flock rather than the meat of the Word of God.
Suppose churches are going to make an everlasting effect on this world and the lives in their community. In that case, we must forsake entertaining the masses and preach the truth of God's Word. Anything short of the truth of the Bible will not make an everlasting change.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" - Hebrews 4:12
Many times in the Old Testament, people came together to hear God's Word read, and after listening, they were expected to obey. It was a simple process. God said it, and then they lived it out.
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" - Isaiah 28:10
He states "precept upon precept" and "line upon line." We must continually read God's Word until it becomes a part of our thinking and life. How did preaching drift from this model, and how do we bring it back to what God intended?
1. Churches must put obligation above the multitudes.
Many churches today are focused on building a group of attendees instead of building a church. A churches responsibility is not to please people but to His precepts. We have no authority to speak outside of the Bible.
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" - Isaiah 8:20
When the Word of God is disregarded behind the pulpit, there is no discernment on how to live in the pew.
2. Churches must trust God's omnipotence rather than their method.
It is not our interesting outline or stories that God promises to bless. He gives power to His Word!
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" - Isaiah 55:10–11
God promises that His Word will always work.
3. Churches must focus on the goal rather than their methods.
We must remember the aim of preaching. Jesus used all kinds of way to communicate. But speaking well, conducting miracles, and using the perfect illustrations were not His goals—they were simply methods. Jesus' objective was to transform lives!
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" - Luke 19:10
Only the truth of the Word of God changes lives. To prevent a doctrinal drift in our lives and our churches, we must understand that people want to know and need to know what the Bible says. We must not be fearful to speak about what Scripture says, not just in conversation but in the pulpit.