Tag Archives: sermon
The preacher would end his sermon by saying “every head bowed and every eye closed.” I knew that the next few minutes would be spent listening to the pianist play “Just As I Am” on the piano while the preacher encouraged people to come down front and pray. At some point the preacher would inevitably say “if you want to be saved, repeat this simple prayer after me,” after which he would recite the “sinners prayer” from memory. Then, with every head bowed and every eye closed, the preacher would ask if anyone said that prayer. He would ask people that said the prayer to raise their hand while assuring them that “no one will see and no one will approach you.”
That might be a familiar routine to you. You also might be wondering what it is and why some churches do it.
First, let’s talk about the history of the altar call and how it came to be a sacred ritual in many churches today. An article at Christianity Today shares some of the history of the altar call:
You are never going to believe this. A new study reveals a major problem among Christians and those who regularly attend church> It’s probably not what you are thinking either.
Sure, we all have problems, no one is perfect and no one goes through a day without making a mistake. But one of the biggest problems plaguing Christians right now could very well be the source of many other issues happening among the family, community, and culture.
According to a new LifeWay Research study, only about 45% of people that claim to attend church regularly say they read the Bible more than once a week. In other words, 55% of people attending church regularly don’t pick their Bible up at any other time than on Sunday. A recent article reports:
One of the reasons I believe the church is falling apart and the lives of Christian husbands, wives, children and families are deteriorating out of control is this: there is no conviction in our sermons.
At one time there was boldness born of conviction in the sermons delivered from church pulpits that called people to repentance and brought about Holy Spirit conviction in people. Today we have so many touchy-feely, feel-good sermons being delivered that conviction is lost. Too many pastors want to be hip, befriend everyone, or keep the peace. Too few pastors want to teach and preach the Gospel centered message of repentance and holy living.
What’s the result?
I can see two diverse outcomes from this lack of Gospel-centered, bold, convicting preaching. The first is the “us against them legalist” that makes sure everyone in the church knows that if you stray from the church defined “straight and narrow” you are wrong, and sinful. This church is easy to spot as its small, generally characterized as dying, refuses to embrace anything remotely cultural in an effort to reach people, and tends to rail against specific sins while ignoring others.
Just days after the City of Coeur d’Alene reversed course and declared that a pastor would not have to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies; Houston Mayor Anise Parker has dropped her unconstitutional subpoena of pastor’s sermons.
An article at the Christian Post notes that Mayor Parker intends to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), but has decided to drop her request for the sermons, speeches, and other communications of local pastors.
“After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort. It is extremely important to me to protect our equal rights ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged.”
As the battle in Houston continues over the city subpoenaing the sermons of at least five pastors for their involvement in opposing a local “bathroom bill,” the commentary continues to flow. Below you will find some notable voices and their thoughts on the subject to help you stay on top of the issue. Every American should be angry over the fact that any government entity would dare subpoena the speech of anyone, let alone pastors. All speech, and religious speech such as sermons is certainly included, is protected by the First Amendment and the government has no business seeking it. Prayerfully the city will back down. If not, I hope the Texas State Supreme Court squashes the subpoena request and ends the city is sued inquisition. Mayor Parker needs a strong wake-up call and reminder that she has no business intimidating people by violating their civil rights.
CBN: ADF Unimpressed by Houston’s Revised Subpoena’s
The Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement on the changes. “The city of Houston still doesn’t get it. It thinks that by changing nothing in its subpoenas other than to remove the word ‘sermons’ that it has solved the problem. That solves nothing,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in the statement. “Even though the pastors are not parties in this lawsuit, the subpoenas still demand from them 17 different categories of information – information that encompasses speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members,” he continued. “As we have stated many times, the problem is the subpoenas themselves; they must be rescinded entirely.”
The news that Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Texas subpoenaed the sermons and other communications from several pastors after the passage and attempted repeal of a controversial “bathroom bill” in the city has become a national matter.
Bathroom bills are dangerous, to say the least. Typically a bathroom bill will allow a man to use the women’s bathroom, locker room, or other facilities (and vice versa) based on little more than a perceived gender identity. In other words a man can simply say that he is a woman and be allowed to use the women’s facilities. The dangers of such bills seem obvious to everyone but the activists pushing for their passage.
When the Houston bathroom bill was being proposed by the city many pastors spoke out against it and even encouraged their congregations to oppose the bill. Such speech is not merely appropriate for a pastor inside his church it is constitutionally protected speech. But that didn’t stop the city of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker from subpoenaing the sermons, emails, and other communication of these pastors.
That’s when people across the country got mad.
For some time people like myself has been warning that the government was becoming increasingly intrusive on the religious freedoms of churches. Stories from the last few years alone are enough to make any sane persons head spin. From zoning law restrictions to taxes, the government has been seeking to get more than a foot in the door of America’s churches.
I have warned on more than one occasion that before long the government would try to silence America’s pastors – either through regulation, IRS intimidation, or both. It seemed a no brainer to me that the end game was to pretend to value freedom of religion while seeking to monitor and regulate exactly what speech is used.
It seems that day has come far sooner than anyone expected.
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas to a group of pastors for their sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or any mention of Mayor Annise Parker; who happens to be a lesbian.