I’ve always been impressed by people who can spend a lot of time saying very little. Not too long ago I was listening to a pastor speak for about thirty minutes and aside from an amusing story, there really wasn’t much that was actually said. Just a key point emphasized numerous times that didn’t really connect to the rest of what he was saying or a clear biblical concept.
What impresses me about this kind of speaking is it’s usually always followed by lots of head nodding and mm-hmms and various other kinds of acknowledging actions that make me wonder if I’m crazy pills or too faux-mature in my faith to appreciate simple truths.
But these kinds of speakers also tend to be those who complain whenever people say, “I’m not being fed.” It really frustrates them to hear that, and I get why. They work hard on the messages they put together, trying to motivate and inspire. And the people are being fed—it’s just sometimes they’re being fed cotton candy.
And cotton candy is a nice treat every so often, but what happens when you eat too much of it? You get fat, lazy and your teeth rot.
Cotton candy preaching works against itself. Whatever methodology a pastor works from, his goal is the same: to see people grow in their faith. The problem is, this kind of preaching doesn’t do that. It tickles the ears, maybe gives a warm fuzzy, but it doesn’t lead to heart change. And so the good religious advice that might be dispensed goes ignore and unapplied. This kind of preaching just won’t do. Jared Wilson makes this point well in The Pastor’s Justification: “The Scriptures preached with conviction… do what good religious advice cannot, ensuring ‘that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim. 3:17)”.
The trouble with the “being fed/not being fed” thing is it lacks clarity. What’s going on behind the question? For some people, it might be that they, like I can be at times, are a bit too “faux-mature.” Guys like me need to chill out sometimes and appreciate truth communicated simply, but precisely (which, FYI, is way harder than it seems). But more often than not, the question is coming from people whose Dentist is warning them about cavities that are forming in their teeth. They’re spending a bit too much time at the desert table when what they really need is a balanced meal.
Good, biblical preaching builds up God’s people. Let’s have more of that and a little less cotton candy.