Yesterday I attended an awesome conference called A Dangerous Calling. The speaker was Paul Tripp and I got boatloads out of the conference. I have tweeted some of the things that Tripp said that really impacted me. One of the quotes I tweeted was:
A lot of pastors are serving up mediocre sermons that are underprepared.
This hit me because I think it’s sometimes true of my life, and some of my friends in ministry have admitted it’s true of them.
After I posted the quote I had two comments from brothers on Facebook. Here are the two comments posted in their entirety:
Commenter 1: On the other hand, more pastors are serving up mediocre sermons because they are only middle of the road preachers. By definition we can’t all be outstanding preachers. Don’t buy into the culture of excellence! God uses the lowly!
Commenter 2: I’m with [Commenter 1] Hans. Don’t buy into that stuff dude. Paul wrote on this in 1 Cor 1 and it seems our churches still fall into the same mistakes. It’s the word and the spirit that are effective.
Two issues arise from these quotes:
- I am not sure they have got the gist of Tripp’s quote. The issue is not talent but hard work and discipline. The point Tripp was making was that mediocre sermons are served up by lack of preparation, not lack of talent.
- I wonder if we have theologised our way into mediocrity. I agree that the Spirit, through His word, does the work, but have we relied so much on that theology that we don’t even try to do our own ministries (music, preaching, pastoral care, etc.) with excellence because we have a theology that says God works even if we suck? Now, I believe that God works even though we suck (in fact I am reminded of this truth every time someone says they found something I did helpful!) but I think we may have used this theology to theologise our way into mediocrity. If God is glorious and we exist for His glory shouldn’t we aim for the best we can do? Isn’t that what excellence is? Isn’t mediocrity doing a job that is less than our best? Excellence is not being as good a preacher as John Piper or Phillip Jensen or William Taylor. Excellence is doing the best we can do for the glory of God. That is what the quote is trying to say and that is what we should be aiming for.
What do you think?