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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« On Subscription Sermon Series (Part 2) | Main | Whew!!!! »

On Subscription Sermon Series (Part 1)














Ever wonder why so much of "evangelical" preaching is so awful these days--in the sense of being devoid of biblical content and lacking the power of God?  Sermon subscription series might be a big part of the problem.

Although I never signed up for it, I am now the recipient of a weekly e-mail sales pitch for one of these subscription series.  Little did these guys know . . .

In an attempt to entice me to purchase their weekly sermon (a subscription will cost you $5.75 a month), I was sent the following "sample" sermon.  It is fair to assume that outfits like this send you their best stuff, since, after all, they are trying to get you to subscribe to their series.

I realize that the company which sent me this sermon might get a bit miffed if I quote extensively from their product on my blog.  Too bad.  Since they sent it to me unsolicited, and since it is so indicative of the sorry state of preaching these days, I thought you might be interested to see what passes for a "sermon", as well as shine some light on what some ministers are doing with their hard-earned $5.75. 

First and foremost, any minister who subscribes to this sermon series (or any other) ought to be defrocked!  Ministers must do their own exegesis and study, they must craft their own outlines (or manuscripts) and they must do so prayerfully and diligently.  This is our calling!  To buy someone else's work and then pass it off as your own, is sin, pure and simple.  How about sloth and theft for starters. 

When I looked through this particular sermon, I was dumbfounded at how bad it was.  The sermon is supposedly based on Mark 5:1-19 (the story of the demon-possessed man), and is entitled "Do Not Close the Blinds." 

It will come as no surprise that the sermon has virtually nothing to do with the passage in Mark's Gospel.  Having spent the better part of a year preaching through Mark, I was especially interested to see what these guys would do with that particular text.

The sample "sermon" includes both an introduction and an illustration (which is actually a tacky and completely inappropriate joke).  So let's start there.  I'll simply quote it.



The intro:  "Some things in life are difficult to explain"

The suggested illustration is as follows:

"Roger is a hard worker, and he spends most of his nights bowling or playing volleyball, or so he claims.  His loving wife decided he needed to relax from work and take a break from sports.  So she takes him to a night club.

The doorman at the club spots them and says, `Hey Roger! How are you tonight?' His wife, surprised, asks her husband if he has been here before. `No, no. He's just one of the guys I bowl with.'

They are seated, and the waitress approaches, sees Roger, and says, `Nice to see you. You want your usual?' His wife's eyes widen. `You must come here a lot!' `No, no' says Roger. `I just know her from volleyball.'

Then this gorgeous blonde comes by and says, `Don't forget you promised me a dance the last time you were here!'  

His wife, fuming, collects her things and storms out of the bar. Roger follows her and spots her getting into a cab, so he jumps into the passenger seat. His wife looks at him, seething with fury and lets Roger have it with both barrels. At this, the cabby leans over and says, `Sure looks like you picked up a mean one tonight, Roger!'"




Such a tasteless joke might get a nervous laugh from some guilty husband who cheated on his wife in the past, but my question is "what on earth does this tacky joke have to do with Mark 5:1-19?" 

And how dare a minister of the gospel waste God's time during worship to tell an inappropriate joke, when he should be using all his time preaching God's word.

Next up, comes the recommended examples, intended to reinforce the main point that certain things are hard to understand:



"(1) It is difficult to get people today to understand we are war with the terrorist.

(2) It is difficult to get Christians to understand we are at war with Satan.

No matter how hard you try, some folks can not get this message. They just want to CLOSE THE BLINDS and pretend this does not exist.  When it comes to the terrorist and Satan we had better learn how to STOP them before they destroys us.  Satan is after us and we had better learn how to stop him.  To stop him we need to look at several things."



So, based on Mark 5:1-19, we learn the following:  1).  Some things are hard to understand,  2).  People don't want to understand, 3). Satan (and terrorists) are after us,  4). We are at war with him (Satan), and  5).  We need to keep our blinds open.

What????  (Part 2 to follow)

Reader Comments (20)

September 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRaymond McPherson
So, this is basically a "Sermon of the Month" club?
Sickening...but unfortunately, I've heard a few of those.
September 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterhb
So, where is the sermon? What I just heard was a speach or something Max Lucado would say...Oops! Did I just say that. A Sermon is when you read and preach God's Word not tell your life story or use bad jokes.

Thank you Pastor Kim and Marcelo for preaching from God's word. I can get to know you guys better at lunch or some other time not while you should be preaching God's Word!
September 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertiminater
That truly is an abomination.

And of course, there are a scant few reformed churches in which you might hear very much the same thing, and I have.

Dr. Riddlebarger, you say that guys who would preach this crap ought to be defrocked. But who will defrock them? The people in his congregation aren't getting solid preaching, so they don't know that what they're getting is junk. What are our churches doing to ensure that guys who would preach junk like this get the boot other than screening them during the ordination process?

I don't advocate a witch hunt, but shouldn't the church be enforcing Paul's charge to Timothy to preach the Word?
September 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike G.
Unfortunately, bad sermons and even worse sermon illustrations have become par for the course in our church during the last few months.

This past Sunday at our PCA Church, the Pastor spent the first 15 minutes of his sermon reading us the lyrics to Toby Keith’s song, “I Wanna Talk About Me.” Don’t get me wrong, I happen to like that song a lot, I just never expected to hear it at church – correction – a reformed church. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Pastor then “rapped” new lyrics about how we selfishly talk to God about ourselves.

The only thing different from our old Arminian church is that they would have actually played Toby’s real video, and then shown us their creative video with the Pastor performing his new lyrics. UGH!

This type of preaching (from supposedly reformed pastors) leaves those of us who are new to the doctrines of grace and reformed theology totally adrift. If it weren’t for the internet we might never hear the Word of God preached properly, at least not at the local level.

We are deeply grateful to Dr. Riddlebarger and the congregation of Christ Reformed Church for posting his sermons, and for their academy. Thank you so very much!
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMaryBeth
Sounds like Joel Olsteen - master of the cheesy smile - to me.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
I would not like to be a pastor or an elder that would have to answer to a Holy God and to void the power of the cross with a sermon like this.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBob Christenson
When I was in neo-Pentecostalism it was quite common for preachers to pass around sermons. Of course, they weren't called sermons, they were called 'messages'.

One time, I had seen a video sermon from a preacher in a particular denomination when I was back east. Later I visited a congregation in the same denomination in California. There I heard the same sermon.

Even being new in my faith, I thought it was funny that he didn't mention it was from someone else.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Cronkhite
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3.1).
Need I say more?
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermholst
Can't they at least hire someone more entertaining like Dr. Phil, Sylvia Browne, or Stephen King(it is about demons after all) to write the sermons. Can we order this sermon mormon or "Children of God" flavored?

Do you think they could just send me this sermon narrarated by Sean Connery, Ian McKellan, or Charleton Heston on CD every week so I didn't have deal with stadium parking every single Sunday.

If you intercut the sermon with small advertisements from General Motors, we could blanket the whole planet with spiritual messages on CD or DVD at no cost to the people. And since everyone would be getting fed at home, no one would even need to go to church anymore (provided the disc came with a sample of Carmel Macchiato Frappuccino) :) !!!
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMegachurcher
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterplw
So, there is an answer to my lifelong question to preachers: "Where do you guys get this stuff, because I don't see it in the text?!"

The answer is apparently, "The Sermon Subscription Series."
That read more like a monologue from some late-night TV talk show host. A sermon it wasn't. Where is almighty God? Where is our only hope to be reconciled to Him? Why are we focusing on temporal nonsense and not eternal issues? Any preacher who uses tripe like this should be fired and, as you said Kim, defrocked.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Ratliff
If I did not believe God is sovereign and will save every last soul that He determined to from eternity past, I would be scared to death that the church would eventually become extinct. In Matthew 16:18, Peter confesses Christ as Lord. Jesus said that upon this rock (Peter's confession), He would build His church. Unfortunately, churches as depicted here are being built upon man himself, his greed, his selfishness, etc. They are nothing but huge self-help groups where sin is mentioned as a "problem", or in most cases, not at all. There is no worship of God there. We see more and more of this and who knows what will be next. May our Lord continue to conform us into the image of His Son, sustain us by His grace and not allow us fall prey to those whose words soothe itching ears.
Dr. Riddlebarger, thank you for continuing to make us aware and exposing various lies and heresies on this blog.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRandy S.

The Czar of all "sermon" subscriptions, Herr Warren - "40 Ways to Increase Baptisms":
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Sadly, the truth of the matter is that there are so many in our culture, in the churches that would approve of such a sermon. They would like it because it made them laugh, there was something spooky about it, and the Bible was read... come on, aren't we just splitting hairs???

Of course not. We need to preach the word, and pray that God opens the ears of the people to hear it.

September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy
i remember one sermon where i stopped listening and started counting. i counted how many non-biblical references were made in a space of time. 22 non-biblical references/ anecdotes/ illustrations in 9 minutes! ouch.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRana

I have given up and just count sheep now. I wanted to make a clever comment about the Lamb of God here (you know, because of the sheep reference and all), but I couldn't do so without feeling sacriligious.

September 29, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
As a bi-vocational pastor, my schedule is crowded. How can I avoid this sin?
August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom
Professional preachers, who drawn men after themselves, are clearly warned about through the Bible, particularly in 1 Peter and Jude. They do not have the mind or heart of Jesus to feed his sheep, but feed themselves off them. They use the old 'grass' they have raked up to make a smoke a screen as it has no food content. The solution is simple; stop paying them!

The problem is where can they, or you, find fresh, life giving 'grass' ? Ask the Shepherd! "If any lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all liberally without any preconditions and it shall be given to him." (Jer. 33 v 3, Js. 1 v 5).

There is nothing more exciting than God's Word but men have covered it with traditional cobwebs. A fresh look at the whole Bible is require. There is one site,, that is trying to wake up Christians to God's life giving words that have the power to turn the whole world upside down!
It is time to trim your lamp
May 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

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