Monday, June 15, 2009

important stuff

A couple of books have converged in my world to impact what I do as a pastor recently. First is the book I've almost completed called "Why Johnny Can't Preach". It's basically a book by a man on his death bed lamenting the fact that preaching in our American churches has sunk to an all-time low in terms of quality. The other book is a biography of the famous Great Awakening preacher from the early 1700's New England by the name of Jonathan Edwards (google "sinners in the hands of an angry God"). Anyway, here's how these two come together...

one premise about why Johnny can't preach is that Johnny (in fact all of our society) is driven by a media that constantly distracts us with "sights and sounds of inconsequential trivialities". In other words we have greater access to more useless information than ever before (don't get me started about I need to know that you are going out to walk your dog? NO!). Simply
the preaching in our churches often focuses on the trivial and unimportant and talked about instead of the eternal constants and deep things of God.

the book about Jonathan Edwards comes into this conversation because his life was filled with notebooks and journals and logs that addressed the deepest questions of his day from a theological and scientific (the age we know as enlightenment was happening in Europe where scientific discoveries and theories were proposed daily). His effort was to address from a biblical point of view all of the world's mysteries. He wrote about deep stuff like what the discovery of an ever expanding universe means about God and how gravity and God go hand in hand. His mind simply covered every important question of his day.

So I'm inspired to be a Jonathan not a Johnny. I'm committed to addressing the things that are important to our culture...the ones that will last for eternity, not the trivial junk that will be over when the next fad comes along. I have committed to write every day and I'm trying to make these writings about the significant stuff of all of our lives. I challenge all pastors and teachers to do the same. We have enough junk writing and media...maybe we should offer something different.

Also, this is where you as the leader may be helpful. What is important right now in our culture? Anything
that I could study, research, and address from a biblical perspective? Let me know.


Bonnie Yancey said...

Mike, I would like to hear some biblical perspective on taking moral and political cues from pundits on TV and other media. I could cite many examples but two extreme examples from the news recently include the man who shot and killed the abortion doctor in Kansas and the man who killed a security guard in the Holocaust museum. Both of those individuals were influenced by either TV pundits and/or the internet. There is a whole Fox News vs MSNBC thing that has been going on for some time that is increasingly biased and ugly. I am not suggesting anyone from our church is homicidal but I know many people, Christians and others, who listen to what passes for news and then take it at face value assuming it's the truth. I think it would benefit everyone, including me, to have some biblical "filters" in place.

Mike Baker said...

thanks for the suggestion, I'll put some thoughts for consumption out there real soon.

Nancy said...

First let me say that I love technology! I love being able to communicate with my friends and family at any given moment. It is totally awesome!

On the other hand; I have kinda quit listening to televised news sometime ago.... I hate the idea of having to fill air space 24/7. God is really good at doing that but I'm not too sure about television executives....Mostly because they can't be everywhere at once and they certainly haven't proven their discernment in putting the "big picture" together. Most journalism today is not "WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE" but it appears to be more "IN MY OPINION..." type stuff.

So here is a biblical perspective for you: Proverbs 18:2 "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."

Just saying... and (yes) it is only my opinion :-)

Anonymous said...

I think this is where the power of discernment comes in Bonnie.

Bonnie Yancey said...

I like to follow to the news and current events like some follow their favorite sport. The fact that I like to be informed about what is going on in the world doesn't mean I lack discernment. Mike asked "What is important right now in our culture? Anything that I could study, research, and address from a biblical perspective? Let me know." All I did was answer the question asked in the blog and asked Mike for some guidance.

Nancy said...


I am so sorry if my comment in some way upset you. It was in no way intended to be directed at you. I've just got issues with the news media.

I too want to be informed and I do keep up with world events. I just get tired of having to filter through the opinions to just get the facts.

Again, I am sorry if I offended you in anyway!


PS: My husband is much like you in that he follows the news like some follow sports. And I like him a lot! :-)

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Bonnie....I did not mean my comment to come off offensive. I meant it as a good thing. I think we each have discernment in these situations. Does that make sense? Again, I apologize.

Anonymous said...


I recently read a book called Firestorm by Ron Susek....I think you would appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

I wonder about your take on some of the books which are popular. For example, The Shack, 90 Minutes in Heaven, The Left Behind Series. I found many parallels between today's sermon and The Shack; ie: some things are just beyond us, we can't comprehend the big picture