I sent the following to the pastor of the church we went to a couple of Sundays ago in North Carolina. I told my kids and my brother-in-law it was a bad sermon, and I thought it was only right that I tell the pastor as well. Who knows what God might do?
Dear (pastor of the church we visited),
My extended family and I were in Montreat this past week, and we attended the 11am service at (a certain church) on Sunday on the recommendation of (friends of ours), whose house we were staying in.
Your sermon from Acts 8 was a bad one, because in it you used Philip the evangelist to present a model of evangelism that consists of “listening and asking questions”… It wasn’t absolutely wrong — in every generation there are men like the Ethiopian eunuch who are on the verge of repentance and are not fighting against God’s Word and this is all that is needed — but that situation is unusual: by far the most common situation is that, both outside the church and within, men resist God’s Word at the point of their sin. The proper response of the godly to such resistance fills the pages of Scripture, and it doesn’t amount to listening and asking questions. As just one example, in the book of Titus, after much instruction to Pastor Titus to get into people’s lives and go far beyond listening and asking questions, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul says,
“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” – Titus 2:15 NASB
Or you think of Acts 20:17-38 about how the Apostle Paul characterized his own ministry and how publicly and from house he did not shrink back from declaring anything that was profitable (constant rebukes, exhortations, and instruction!)—and how the church loved him for it. The way he ministered bears no resemblance to what your sermon pointed to.
The drama, too, mocked the poor attempts of a woman who tried to help but lacked guidance from her church, and exalted a mystical finding of God on your own, apart from the encouragement and rebuke of His people. This was not an encouragement to the faith of the man who desires to obey Scripture’s “each other” commands, but a warning to remain silent so that he doesn’t make a fool of himself.
Please don’t withhold from your congregation God’s teaching about what true ministry is. It is essential to the body being built up and growing up to maturity in Him, and to the members growing in love for each other and for Him.
Elder, Clearnote Church