We’ve all done it before; at least I think… How many of us have entered a worship service seeking to praise God, yet come out with a number of critiques?
Hearing a sermon on this very subject, I’ve realized that this is something that I’ve personally struggled with at times, especially when a sermon is performed with a level of opinion and lack of preparation.
What We Can Control
Arriving at church on Sunday is for nothing less than worshiping God. We should try to make every attempt to worship and praise Him as best as we can, regardless of anything else.
Understanding this and realizing that we cannot control the sermon is important if we are to keep ourselves in check. We cannot control the pastor or church leader, and must not lose composure in worshiping God.
Make every attempt to focus on the message. Try not to get caught up in every example and method the pastor uses throughout the sermon.
When you find fault with the sermon, do what it takes to focus on the message and on worshiping God. Prayer is a great way to do this. Even if you need to withdraw in your mind to focus on God and not on what is being said, do what it takes to open your mind to the message you are hearing.
In the Worst Cases
Unfortunately, I’ve heard some negative sermons in my experiences, from those that disregard cultures and positive actions, to those that are contradictory in the way they expound upon Biblical principles.
There are two cases in which we may hear a negative sermon: in a church we are accustomed to, and in one in which we are not, in the case of looking for a new church, or in visiting one, and so forth.
For a church that we are visiting, it is important to weigh the sermon objectively. If it is promoting principles of mindsets that are not Biblical, you may want to try to find a new church. Of course, if you are visiting for other reasons you may not want to return.
If we are visiting a church in which we are accustomed, you must take into account the body of the church. Pastors are human – they may have a negative sermon. However, the difference in the positive pastor is that he or she is willing to learn, and be receptive to the congregation by admonishing one in Christ.
All things considered, make sure you are involved in a church centered on God’s word. You may tolerate mistakes from time to time, but never tolerate that which conflicts with the essential role of church – to build followers in Christ to worship and praise Him.
In many cases the toughest dynamic here is in controlling your own reactions. It is easy to critique the difficult job of the pastor. However, we must learn to focus our hearts and mind on the message and on praising Him, and not on minor objects in which we disagree.
If you find your church’s focus dwindling, be active and seek to admonish your leaders who should be receptive. However, we must not be active in a church that is not open to criticism, and not ultimately focused on worshiping God through His word.
May we all find glory in praising Him and building our churches to glorify His name.