How much Scripture does a pastor need to use in a sermon?
I have been asking myself this question for a few months now, as I have been battling being spiritually fed by church. I would often be sitting in a church, listening to the pastor, and saying to myself, “This is nice and all, but how is this scripturally supported? What does the Bible have to say about this?” I always thought that the role of the pastor was to constantly bring the Word of God, not to present a feel-good speech once a week.
I have been a member of the same church for 15 years. I have gone since I was 5 by myself on the church van every Sunday. For me, church was my family, as they were my sources of spiritual advisement and were there for me throughout my life. I have seen three pastors there over the course. This last pastor came when I was a sophomore (?) in high school, and although he wasn’t my first pick for pastor, he was voted in. He was humorous, had funny sayings, and, like me, didn’t sugarcoat the truth. I became the first person from my church to graduate and enter ministry, and he seemed supportive, but not thrilled. I noticed by the time I had graduated that his sayings repeated, his euphemisms cycled, and his sermons has kind of fell flat. I couldn’t really explain why, but they just had. I noticed that the church was falling flat, and I couldn’t pinpoint the reasons, but I knew that it had to do with MANY different areas of the church and MANY different ministries. I was kind of glad, honestly, to be moving on to college and get away from the same old, generic stuff I was getting from my church. Two years into college, I am finally educated enough to understand why the church is declining, although I won’t get into that.
This semester, I had the opportunity to come back quite a few times over the few months for various reasons. I attended this church on Sundays, and began to discover a trend in the Pastor’s sermons…no Scripture. He would read a verse or so from the Bible, we would pray, we would sit, and then he would rant for the rest of the service. He would present points, but wouldn’t add much Scripture into those points. They were unsupported (Note: this is not ALL the time, but the majority of the time). At the end of each Sermon, I ask myself, “What is the Lord trying to tell me?” However, at the end of his sermons, I wasn’t able to answer the question, as he didn’t really talk about what the Lord said, according to Scripture.
The final straw was on Mother’s Day this year. I came home for the weekend, and the pastor’s message was about how we need to be treating our mothers—with adoration, affirmation, etc etc. However, he gave no Scripture. He mentioned one verse, then we prayed and nothing else about the Bible was said. Towards the end of the sermon, he told a story something like this (except a lot more poetic): “God and an angel were talking, and the angel was asking God how He was going to create mothers. And God said, ‘I’ll create them with 6 arms so they can do all the tasks around the house, 4 sets of eyes so they can keep their eyes on everyone at once, etc.’ The angel said, ‘And what is that running down her face? Did you create that too?’ And God replied, ‘That tear wasn’t created by me, it’s blah blah something beautiful.’” Okay, I’m not a good storyteller, but I think you get the gist. This story was completely made up and had nothing to do with Scripture, but the pastor made it sound as if it REALLY happened. He made the audience feel incredibly good, made a bunch of people say “awww”, and made MY JAW DROP. I had to be nudged to close my mouth. I felt extremely convicted to talk to him, and got up the courage to. I pulled him aside, alone, after church and tried to talk to him about the lack of Scripture in his messages. Instead of going, “Wow, I didn’t realize that. I need to investigate this and look at myself to see if this is really true. Thanks, sister.” He YELLED at me, called me arrogant, and claimed that my school was teaching me crazy things. He told me that if I needed more Scripture, to go find another church. He told me, “How dare you come into MY church so arrogantly and call ME out!” …and just many more ridiculous things… In 5 minutes I lost so much respect for this man. He pulled others from the church over and asked them if he used Scripture, and when they said no he just got furious. I talked to my youth pastor, who admitted to me that he knows the pastor uses no scripture, and told me that the reason nobody has called him out on it is because of his arrogance and temper. If you would like the whole story, I can tell you it in private, but he just made a fool out of himself. When I asked the pastor if I could call him and talk to him later that week, he told me no. When I mentioned that he could have used Proverbs 31 to back up all his points, he told me that wasn’t what the Lord led him to. So you’re telling me the Father told you to use no Scripture?
I have never been so upset with my church, and I have put up with a LOT from them. But it has made me think, how much Scripture is needed for a sermon? I need thoughts and opinions.
**As a side note, I want to point out that when I talked to my pastor, I was NOT arrogant. I told him that I was coming as his sister, and honestly if I was making the same mistake I would want people to come to me and let me know mine. There is an extreme lack of Scripture in many pastors and youth leaders, and I hoped that my pastor would strive to be above this. But apparently if you’re arrogant enough to not use Scripture, you’re too arrogant to examine yourself after criticism. Also, I am no longer attending that church. I need to be fed from the errorless Bible, not humans who error all the time. Pastors, let the Holy Spirit speak through you, not your own sinful self. And my prayer is that all Christians can do the same, especially when ministering.