Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The curse of motivational speaking - Where is the true gospel in our churches?

HARARE – Church leaders have sadly converted as staple diet of many evangelical pulpits. Writing on motivational speaking, Pastor Mbewe says that, motivational speaking merely reduces God to a means rather than an end.

Pastor Mbewe reveals a recent encounter with a young man.

“A young man came to see me after our church service. He is the kind of guy who shows up at church once in a while and then disappears for a season. My guess is that he goes around churches sampling sermons and looking for answers. On this visit, he asked that I help him to overcome a failure in his life, and it was a failure to progress. He said that his greatest problem is that he does not believe in himself. Could I help him believe in himself so that he could become successful?”

He added that, “I asked him whether he was a Christian. His answer was, “Do I really need to be a Christian in order to be successful? Are you telling me that all those successful people out there are Christians? Aren’t there general principles that I can apply to my life, if I am a Christian or not.”

His answer was naive. “I have been told that such principles exist and I have tried them. They seem to work for a while and then I am back to my old self again. I want you to help me find that formula that will help me go forward and never slide back to the place where I do not believe in myself.”
The curse of motivational speaking: where is the true gospel in our churches?
The curse of motivational speaking: where is the true gospel in our churches?
 Pastor Mbewe’s experience is not isolated to the anonymous lad. It has become daily fodder in many churches, where believers are promised vast benefits before they even access the basic things required in a Christian’s life, and Harare in no exception.

“Sadly, motivational speaking has become the staple diet of many evangelical pulpits. The message being heard is, “God has put the potential in you and all you need to do is believe in yourself to unlock that potential. Have a grand vision and live out that vision. You must be a man or woman of destiny and the sky will be the limit for you. Don’t let your past failures get in your way of success. Look beyond them, as Jesus looked beyond the cross and thus overcame it. You are the head and not the tail.”

The real gospel has been shelved in a bid to preserve the flock because if a preacher does not do that, they will shift to the next church. We have preachers who a bribe congregates with motivational speaking, in the hope of preserving congregates. In short, it is a marketing gimmick rather than the actual gospel.

“In the light of the plethora of motivational speaking, it begs the question, “Is this how Old Testament and New Testament preachers preached?” If I summarize the preaching of Noah, Moses, Elijah etc., in the Bible, is this the kind of message that I will find there? I do not think so. Granted, motivational speakers borrow words from these men, but borrowing someone’s words is not the same thing as saying what he is saying. “A text without a context is a pretext.”
He argues further saying, “My chief quarrel with motivational speaking is that it reduces God to a means rather than an end. Men and women are not made to see that the nature of SIN lays in the letter “I” in the middle of the word. Instead, motivational speaking feeds that same ego and points to God as the one who can spoil it to the point of intoxication. That is a lie! It is God alone who must be at the center of our lives. Christianity demands a dying to self, a taking up of one’s cross, and a following after a suffering Savior.”

Motivational speaking makes people feel good, whereas the gospel first makes people feel bad, until they find their all in Christ. True preaching must make people face the fact that they are living in rebellion against God and that they need to repent or they will perish. It is only as people recognize this and cry out, “What shall we do to be saved?”

This is exactly what has confronted the Zimbabwe church today. There is an influx of flattery while the real gospel has been relegated to the sidelines.

As Pastor Mbewe observes, “Motivational speaking is an attempt at trying to kill a charging lion with a pea-gun, using freshly cooked peas, spiced with the most aromatic seasonings. The aroma may be tantalizing to the taste buds, but it is totally useless in bringing down that ferocious beast. Men and women outside Christ are dead in trespasses and sins. Exciting their senses with nice-sounding platitudes will not give them life. They need the law to kill their fallen egos and the gospel of Jesus Christ to give them life.”

Harare churches are filled with this type of gospel. Churches are filled to the roof and go home excited but having grasped nothing to add value to their Christian lives.

“Motivational speaking is filling up our church buildings until they look like football stadiums. In this world of misery and gloom, we can all do with some encouragement. But is that all that we were called to do as preachers? What good is it if men feel inspired and motivated, and then go back home to live a life of sin and selfishness? Sadly this is the norm in so many evangelical churches. The churches are filled to capacity with people determined to drink sin like water the whole week. It is not biblical preaching; it is blight on the landscape of true evangelicalism. It is filling the churches with dead people who are being told to live as if they are alive. We need to return to the good old gospel that truly gives life to the dead and sets men and women free,” concludes Pastor Mbewe.

The writer is seemingly controversial but he has touched on the nerves of many worshipers and preachers flocking to the church today. Can we truly eliminate motivational speaking within the church and remain relevant. This method could become a source of attracting people and later offer them the total package when they mature spiritually. – Salvation Press News (SPN).

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