Enough of the kindergarten sermons

Published 10:20 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

By Dr. Chris Surber

They say that if you “dumb down” your sermon to reach a 5-year-old, you’ll reach everybody in the room. Maybe. But I’m not sure that’s the best practice.

Kindergarten sermons belong in kindergarten. We’re supposed to grow.

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I read recently about a pastor who built his entire message around the themes from the Toy Story movie. Using pop-culture references isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Apparently though, the sermon never went beyond the notion of everybody needing a friend.

Truisms don’t change lives.

The writer of the article stated that the most substantive aspect of the sermon were the juice boxes and animal cookies served to the congregation at the conclusion of the sermon.

I’m sure the sermon spoke to the 5-year-olds, at least.

We’re supposed to grow in knowledge. “Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18 NLT)

How will Christians grow in knowledge of God if they’re always spoon-fed an easy diet of quick pick-me-up sermons aimed more at non-offense of the listener than Christian growth? Preaching that doesn’t push people’s thoughts in new directions and doesn’t stimulate growth.

We’re supposed to grow in our affections. “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”(1 John 4:7 NLT)

Patting people on the back for who they are won’t help anyone become what God desires them to be.

Kindergarten preaching nurtures childish Christian faith. Preachers aren’t kindergarten teachers, and Christians should demand more from their leaders.

Who would go to a fitness instructor who offered rapid donut eating as a primary exercise or a boxing coach who used an old Nintendo and “Mike Tyson’s Punch-out” instead of gloves and heavy bags?

We live in a broken world, the conditions of which are always pulling us toward apathy. Bitterness develops out of brokenness. Pain and loss pull us toward despair.

Only Christians fueled by passion will have the energy necessary to make a positive impact on the world around them.

We’re supposed to grow in our action. “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death.” (Philippians 3:10 NLT)

Why are kindergarten sermons so appealing?

They appeal to pastors essentially for two reasons. Either he’s lazy — not wanting to put in the study and time required to produce substantive sermons — or the congregation is lazy, and he wants to keep them content.

The rule in my home has always been, “Let sleeping babies sleep.” That’s bad practice on Sunday morning.

For centuries in our land, Christian preaching was God’s megaphone to wake the dead. Kindergarten sermons aren’t helping the church or the world.

Remember the words of Ralph Washington Sockman, “A preacher is one who leads men from what they want to what they need.” We need to return to feeling uncomfortable.

The Rev. Dr. Chris Surber is the pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church. Email him at chris@chrissurber.com.