The Tragedy of Evangelistically Irrelevant Sermons


Evangelist George Whitefield
Evangelist George Whitefield

Committed to Changing the World

From 1739 onwards Whitefield, both Wesley brothers, Howell Harris and an increasing army of young men began preaching the gospel outdoors to multitudes.

Wesley, with superior organizational skills than Whitefield, took charge of the societies and formed new ones, drawing Whitefield’s converts into regular fellowship and accountability.

Whitefield also formed many societies but was more passionate about preaching the gospel to the crowds.  With his commitment to preach in America he effectively gave complete charge of the English societies to Wesley.

Pretty but Powerless

But from the earliest days of the outpouring of the Spirit to the end of their lives these leaders kept a clear focus on bringing those outside of church life to Christ.

Even as late as 1774 when Wesley was preaching in Glasgow he couldn’t help but be frustrated at the failure of preachers who ignored the unbeliever.

Writing of two church services he attended there he declared that the sermons ‘contained much truth, but were no more likely to awaken one soul than an Italian opera.’ (Quoted by Mark Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism, IVP, p.106)

The tragedy of evangelistically irrelevant sermons is not that there is nothing there which delights the believer but nothing that can rescue the nonbeliever.

The sooner we recognise this deficiency and follow the example of men like Whitefield and the Wesley’s the closer we shall be to seeing the gospel triumph in our communities.

To read about CH Spurgeon’s view on this subject click here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

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