If I were traveling through a city where one of those preacher-teacher-pastor types did his or her weekly Bible exposition, you can bet I would call ahead to find out if they were preaching. I wouldn’t want to hear the backup or the second string or, worse yet, the pinch hitter. I would want to hear the big cheese.
And I wouldn’t be happy if that church didn’t come clean over the phone. I don’t want them to try to con me or manipulate into coming by withholding info or covering up. I want the real deal, or I’m gonna keep looking.
I don’t apologize for my actions…or my attitude. I’m only coming to hear the speaker. If I get some blessing or challenge or some kind of residual benefit by being there, all the better.
On the other hand…
If you claim a church family as your own… If you see yourself as part of a particular church family… You better never make your decision to come to the weekly big show based on who’s preaching! Ever. You better never call ahead to find out if El Jefe is going to be in the saddle, so you can decide whether there’s something better to do with your time.
Here’s what I’m thinking…
There are pastor-teachers who are incredibly gifted orators…full of charisma and personality and wit and wisdom. Especially in our suburban world, there are some preachers that are simply amazing and great to listen to. That’s who I’m looking for if I’m traveling on an off Sunday. I get it.
But the preacher is not the star of the show and the sermon is not the center of the service. The minister is not who we come to adore and the message should never be more important than our own personal study of the word. We live in a church culture that worships at the feet of celebrity pastors, who teach as if you can’t live without their words. Baloney and more baloney.
When I go and visit a church to hear the preacher, I’m going pretty much as a….uh, visitor. But that’s not the relationship we have with our church family. We are not outsiders. We are not on-lookers. We are not there as spectators. We are there because we belong. And it doesn’t matter who’s preaching. First string…third string..or.the bat boy. Because it should never be about the preacher or the sermon or the show. It’s about family.
So if you’ve got to miss…then miss. Go to work. Sleep in. Get some rest, if you need it. Hang out with your neighbors. Do a special worship time with your kids. Visit your relatives, if that’s the plan. But don’t you dare choose not to come because of who’s preaching that Sunday. Don’t disrespect your church family that way. Don’t make it about you. Okay?
Btw…I’m not preaching Sunday, but I hope to see you there anyway!