He Cannot Compete with Them: Your Pastor & Internet Preachers
In order to hear good preaching from around the world, we used to have to acquire cassette tapes by mail. In this day and age of the Internet and social media, edifying ministry resources are available instantaneously.
More and more young people are plugging into an enormous amount of good biblical teaching. Be it through webcasts, podcasts, youtube, vimeo and the like, millennials feast on wholesome preaching and teaching from other pastors and preachers easier than ever. Of the young people who are staying grounded in their faith, many are devouring spiritual food through the Internet.
It’s a great blessing from the Lord we have in technology. Yet, it could also become a problem.
Feast on Scripture by yourself
The unique issue of our generation arises more and more because of the Internet. When we feed off somebody else’s study and meditation of God’s Word, to the detriment of our own personal devotional study of Scripture. When we would rather watch a sermon or seminar on video or mp3 instead of devotionally meditating on God’s Word by ourselves. Instead of searching for ourselves the whole Scriptures for the point of a certain passage, we would rather turn up Pastor so-and-so’s sermon on it—and be wowed and feed and uplifted by it.
Surely, I do listen to other men’s preaching through the Internet. Don’t get me wrong—I am all for that; I’m in on that! But I just am convinced that we ought not replace our own personal biblical devotions, with another man’s interpretation and preaching. Supplement? Sure. Aid in your understanding of what you’ve tried hard to figure out? Okay. But replace your own daily Bible reading with another preacher’s sermon? No.
My concern here is not that this Internet generation is supplementing their Sunday Sermons and personal devotions with good spiritual food. But my concern is that you may listen to Mark Driscoll preach for an hour and fifteen minutes via video, and not read and meditate on that same Scripture for yourself—for an hour and fifteen minutes. The issue is that John Piper spends hours daily meditating and praying over his Bible, but you would rather watch him on DesiringGod.org—instead of meditating and praying over your own Bible. Watch not the fruit of another’s study of Scripture, but focus intently on God’s Word daily, by yourself, for yourself.
Shepherded in life by your own Pastor
Consequently, another dilemma arises when we feed off another pastor’s preaching, to the neglect and forsaking of your own local church’s pastor. God forbid, it is to the detrimental comparison of your own pastor, who faithfully labors in God’s Word, yet the Lord has not blessed him with a hip-cool-punkness or an amazing homiletical abilities.
I cannot compete with Mark Driscoll or John Piper or John MacArthur, though I also have learned much from them. Pastor Mark has a much larger physical and Internet following than me; Pastor John is way out of my league in preaching. These and other well-known preachers of our day, I cannot attain a following as big as they have. Nor do I want to. Nor should I try to be them.
I am called to shepherd my flock. Success and numbers are out of my hands–it is the Lord’s. My calling is to obedience to my Lord and faithfulness to His Word.
The issue is that Pastor Mark cannot come and sit down with you and confront you about your personal life. The issue is the Pastor John is not available to you for personal discipleship. The problem is that some preacher on your iPad ends up functionally being your pastor, instead of your own pastor–the one God has called and ordained to minister to your local church. The preacher on the screen does not know the details of your life, yet you would rather listen to him, than the pastor who you look in the eye every Sunday, who cares about those details of your life.
Compete with this
I really appreciate the ministries of Mark Driscoll and John Piper (for example). I have been greatly edified and blessed by their preaching and example of pastoral ministry. But I am deeply concerned about a generation who can so easily use the Internet to the benefit of personal spiritual nourishment—alone, in front of screen—and yet find it so difficult to sit under and be shepherd by their own pastor’s preaching and ministry. Personal, pastoral care cannot occur where the preacher cannot personally be there with you, for you. Look to your own pastor, because those Internet preachers…they cannot compete with him!
For every preacher with a 100,000 weekly hits on iTunes, there are 100,000 pastors who faithfully minister to their sheep—with nobody listening to their podcast. Yet he cares for each of his 40 sheep personally, praying for them by name daily, shepherding every one of them—week in and week out. Who can compete with that?