Reading, Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious, reminded me that I have to do a better job preaching to various kinds of Believers. It’s not enough to think in terms of saved and unsaved. Within the category of the “saved” are professing Christians experiencing less-than-desired reactions to the Word of God.
The author writes:
“it has always been obvious to religious leaders that there are many ‘fuzzy’ faithful sitting in their pews; people who are neither completely clear, completely in agreement, nor completely faithful to the tents of their religion” (p. 11).
Maybe it’s always been obvious, but that doesn’t mean pastors preach with these kinds of people in mind.
To the slightly confused I could say: “Let me try to make that clearer. In other words…”
To the slightly disagreeable I could say: “Let me try to prove this because you might not be buying it yet…”
To the slightly unfaithful (is that like saying someone is slightly pregnant?!) I could say: “Some of you know God has not been able to rely on you lately in this area…”
Most, if not all, of these kinds of listeners would claim to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Effective preachers like Jonathan Edwards or D. M. Lloyd-Jones made it a habit to challenge that claim. They pointedly spoke to various categories of listeners. They acknowledged the presence of those overhearing worship; they spoke directly to various categories within the camp called Christian.
God help us do the same for the sake of His reputation in the Church and in the world (Ephesians 3:21).