So, You Think You Can Preach? Sigh . . .

by Robert Earl Houston

A buzz, a very annoying and disturbing buzz, has been created by the producers and crew of a proposed television series entitled, “So, You Think You Can Preach?”

Some of us are not amused.

The premise of this television series is to take ministers and have them compete before a panel of preachers (what preacher in his or her right mind that would participate on either side of the table is mind-boggling) and then, in reality television fashion, moves on to “the next round.”  The “big win” includes the opportunity to preach in a mega-pulpit (at least one) across the country (mind you, a mega-church in the USA is 2,000 members or more). It’s been called, by it’s hosts, as a “family show.”

Really?  This show should be shut down.  My problem with this is more theological.

First, What Signal Are We Sending To Young Preachers? It is bad enough that we’ve got a generation of preachers that run the gamut from gifted and skilled to uncommitted and untrustworthy. We are now telling young preachers, you no longer need the counsel and confines of your pastor and home church; You don’t need Elijah anymore; You don’t need a practicum of learning in a smaller, friendlier environment anymore; You don’t need personal interaction with your shepherd in a field anymore; You don’t need study you need style; You don’t need an outline you need a helluva close; You don’t need meat when gravy will fill a belly. We are saying now that your business card and marketing skills are more important than your apprenticeship and training. There is no way a pastor who really cares about his or her associate ministers would allow them to participate in this foolishness. Conversely, as Dr. Tolan Morgan once stated, this is a generation of preacher that not only has no father in the home, they reject having one in the pulpit.

Second, What Signal Are We Sending To Church Members? The “television-cation” of the black church is disturbing. This show, obviously targeted at the black church, is another device to make fun or poke fun or misinterpret the church. When you watch movies, the preacher is preaching while the choir stands throughout the sermon, or the preacher is some fried-chicken eating, Cadillac driving, individual with issues; They make fun of our shouts; They make our psalmists into artists; They take handfuls of preachers and lift them up as if they are the rule and not the exception; and our precious members come to church to hear our choirs compared to what they just heard on Sunday’s Best; they hear our preachers with the scenes from “The Real Preachers of (location)” still within their conscious; they watch our worship while Medea and ‘dem still dance like sugar plums in their heads. Our presentation to our church members should be that our worship is sacred and not stupid; That it’s spirit driven and not performance driven; And that we are not in a contest with each other in the spreading of the gospel.

Third, What Signal Are We Sending About Mega-Churches? Ahhh . . . the prize! We want these young, unseasoned, unproven, preachers to “win the opportunity” to preach at a mega-church – when the truth of the matter is that less than 5% of all churches are in the mega-church category. So, let’s say “Minister M.M.” wins the competition and preaches at a “mega church” . . . then what? OK, you’ve got that on your resume – but so what? Churches don’t look for pastors because of where they preached, they look for pastors because of WHO CALLED THEM to preach. I have applauded (and have dear friends) who pastor larger congregations, but I equally applaud (and have dear friends) with those men and women who pastor congregations, in the words of Dr. M.V. Wade, Sr. “they may not be mega, but they’re major.” The goal of young preachers is not to set your sights on being a mega-pastor, the goal is to be a servant.

I call upon my fellow pastors, denominational leaders, and the Body of Christ at large to insist that your sons and daughters in the faith refuse or recant their participation. The harm that this show will create is not worth it to the body of Christ. And then, let us get back to doing what the Lord called us to do – ministry that matters.

15 responses

  1. Thank you for this post. Like you, I am also amazed at anyone who would sit on either side of this “competition.” Since when did preaching the Word of God become a competition between those called to proclaim The Gospel of Jesus Christ?
    We need to stay in prayer because the devil is running to and fro…….

  2. Just my opinion, but we have gotten to the point that most do not know what preaching is today and are taught more how to entertain versus how to rightly divide then present in a sermon.

    Many will be and are upset with me, but we have become so modern and emotional that shouting and preaching are man induced ; what happened to the days when the SPIRIT was in control – we pump and prime the congregation to a point of emotional foolishness. Now we have a generation that if you are not doing back flips and running along the freeway with the microphone the people consider you dead. Finally, point being most people will not have a problem with the show “so you think you can preach”, it is an overflow of what many hear and see coming from the pulpit every week.

  3. Way to go pastor this is a mockery against the sacredness of our calling

  4. Amen. Well stated! I had to post this on my facebook wall.

  5. Fredérick Robinson | Reply

    My Lord nothing is sacred , I have preached and Pastored for a “Check soda and a to go box of food ” .And they are looking for a mega church experience hmmmm.
    F.Douglas Robinson
    Orlando Fl

    1. Thanks for your excellent comments. You are on target regarding what it means to be entertaining versus what it means to preach the word of God – these are two entirely different things. Your insight is valuable and needs to be heard by modern preachers and church leaders.

  6. Well said sir….. Well said!

  7. Michael Thompson | Reply

    The Devil is in the details. Once again satan and all his demonic forces are attempting to render the Gospel of Christ ineffective by presenting the “GIFT” of preaching as entertainment. You can never deem one preacher to be better than another. Preaching is not a contest, it is a vocation from God. This show is obviously seeking style over substance and by substance I mean the Anointing of the Holy Ghost and the surrendering unto His Will. Saving souls is serious business.

  8. Dr. Jacqueline Smith Lacey, Ed. D. | Reply

    Pastor Houston, Amen, Amen and Amen again. I am deeply concerned and have been for a long, long time about the teaching and training of ministers. Sitting under good and genuine, yet profound Biblical teaching, supersedes any of the foolishness followers of Christ encounter. God bless you forever! Stay bold. Stay strong.

  9. Whats happening to us that its coming down to this, I’m speechless this is down right ridiculous

  10. Andre L. Porter | Reply

    Sadly, just as many of us that are appalled by this – there is a group of young and old that think this contest, mockery and competition is a great thing.

  11. Thank you sir for your excellent manner in which you addressed this issue. With your permission I would like to repost this on my facebook page. Awesome! #empowered

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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