Updated: Sep 24, 2019
Strangely Courageous, The Right Fight, It's About Time.
These are titles of topical series, sermons, and/or "messages" of churches that we've attended over the past few months. They get your attention. They pique your curiosity. They intrigue you, and make you want to go to church, just to hear what this "Right Fight" is all about.
Great. That's what they want. That's why they did a topical sermon or series of "messages," rather than a verse by verse study through the Bible. Because they want asses in the seats and money in the passing plate. They want customers.
There is one reason and one reason alone for why Christian Churches use topical sermons rather than a verse by verse study of the Bible: to make sales.
Topical sermons are like a book series. They're telling a story written by an author, a man, a person. As a writer, I'm pretty well versed in how this works. Authors make more money when they write a book series rather than just one book. A series with a catchy title, an awesome brand and a cool logo will make way more sales than just one book with no "brand" to speak of at all.
Product sales work the same way. You need a brand, you need a logo, and you need a series of products to be successful. It's business. It's money.
The tragedy currently inflicting the modern Christian Church is the same thing that makes businesses successful: Branding, logos, and Topical Sermons/Series.
Jesus is turned into a brand and plastered onto t-shirts with slogans like "Jesus is my homie," or churches will use Him to attract Christians actually seeking Jesus with no intention of actually preaching Him. He is a sales hook. A marketing technique. A brand.
You'll see churches now with their own logo. A single symbol that represents that church so they can put it on t-shirts, media products, and more. A logo. For a church. Could you get any more business-like than that, people? What's wrong with the cross?
I'll tell you what. It makes all churches the same. And we can't have that! We must have individuality from the other churches. We must label ourselves and slap a logo on our building, for the church!
Topical sermons are just another layer in the church-turned-business institution now plaguing the Christian Church, and it needs to stop. As do the logos and the branding and the "worship" concerts at every service.
But for now, let's address the Topical Sermons.
The pastor, the board of directors, the denomination, the church leadership, or whoever you want to put in charge of whatever church you're thinking of, they come up with a topic that they want to talk about for their reasons, but guess what?
News flash: that's not what church is for.
Church is supposed to be focused on God. Not me or you. Not selling a series. Not putting asses in the seats. Not building a gorgeous building or opening a basketball league. The church is not supposed to be a business, and last I checked, Jesus didn't take too kindly to people doing that. Remember this guy?
"Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’"
We already have a series of topical sermons that were written by men much closer to God and His teachings than the modern Christian pastors and churches of today. Their names are the titles of the books of the Bible that we call Scripture and the Word of God.
The Bible. Yeah, remember that thing? What do we need a pastor's stories for? That's not why we go to church, you guys. We go to hear His story, and His story is in the Word of God, not the Topics picked by the Pastor or the church.
The job of the church, and it's pastor, is to feed the flock the Word of God, to preach the Good News, and to teach the truth in love. To nurture our relationship with Christ. Not brand it for personal gain. That is the job of the church.
When topical sermons are the way of the Word, the Word gets left behind in favor of a message the Pastor wants to push. When topical sermons are used, the majority of the sermon is about the pastor, you, and the ideas of men, not God.
It's time we stopped this foolishness and returned to the Word of God, abandoning the words of men, the praise of men, and the focus on men and their works. Christian churches are starving their congregates in order to make long term sales.
Like a diet program that feeds people pizza and granola bars, promising weight loss only to see you again next year because for some reason when you went off the diet, the pizza and granola bars you ate after the diet made you gain all your weight back.
Like a doctor that prescribes medication that will not actually fix your illness, but only the symptoms thereof, only to make you sicker and more reliant on them.
Like a movie franchise that creates an entire team of evil-fighting superheroes, each with their own deep, complicated backstory requiring a dozen movies or more to attach the audience to each character emotionally.
Like a bestselling author only interested in writing one story, but making a lot of money doing it, so they turn it into a seven or eight-book long series, making perpetual sales decades after it went on the market.
This is not what the church is for. This is worldly stuff. This is business stuff. We are supposed to be walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. How much more fleshy can you get when you're turning your sermons to Christians into a topical series designed to make sales and put asses in seats?
You should be focusing on preaching the Word, nurturing relationships with Christ, and giving every little piece of the glory to God.
Sooner or later the word is going to get around that what you're doing is building a den of thieves, and while Jesus may not walk in there and flip tables in your adorable little coffee shops covered in pamphlets and DVD's of your latest Topical Series, your congregates are going to wise up.
Feed the flock, Christian churches. Stop starving them of the Word, feed them, and stop worrying about your own pocketbook.
Okay, rant over.