Convention preacher: preach the cross

AUSTIN?Evangelicals are becoming increasingly willing to compromise the hard message of the cross to fill pews on Sunday mornings, a trend Houston pastor John Morgan said is troubling and unbiblical. In the convention sermon to SBTC messengers Nov. 14, Morgan, pastor of Sagemont

Church for 40 years, told pastors they need to have “rich young ruler experiences,” referring to Jesus’ encounter in Matthew 19:16-22 with a man who walked away after hearing Jesus’ call to

total surrender.

Morgan emphasized that Jesus did not run after the young man or change his answer to draw him back. Southern Baptists, along with other evangelicals, Morgan said, think they can persuade people into the kingdom better than Jesus could?with slick packaging and an often-rewritten gospel message.

“We’re able to make adjustments to get back on track” when there are troubles within a church and there are empty pews. Those adjustments come in various forms including staff adjustments (firing the preacher, for example) and hiring research firms to find out what will draw people to church.

“It seems,” he said, “our creativity will bail us out.” “We’ll do whatever it takes to get people

to come.” Morgan said one of the most troubling phrases in the Christian lexicon today is “seeker-sensitive church.” Instead, the first concern should be to present worship that is “Savior-sensitive,” Morgan said.

While he said has no qualms with churches designing ministries to meet community needs?he even said he would preach in Bermuda shorts if the Lord told him to?he said bristles when pastors water down the gospel and plan church services around what they think people want to hear.

When the pastor of the largest church in America?an allusion to Joel Osteen?says the word “sin” is not in his vocabulary and he does not know if Jesus is the only way to heaven, then that pastor’s congregation will not know the reality of those truths for themselves, Morgan said.

One of Morgan’s church members took him to task when he mentioned the pastor one Sunday. Morgan replied by offering to purchase for the woman all of the taped messages Osteen had preached on the cross, sin, the atoning blood of Christ, and repentance. When Morgan called the church to inquire, there were no such tapes to be found. That, he said, is why he so profoundly objects to twisting Scripture to make it more appealing.

When pastors get to heaven, they will not be asked how many pews were filled but rather, was the word of God preached?

He said churches need to be Savior-sensitive churches preaching the cross and repentance. If Jesus be lifted up, God will draw men to him. He said pastors should not be discouraged if their churches are not being filled when the uncompromised gospel is preached. It is the Holy Spirit who draws people in. Pastors simply need to hold firm to what they have been called to do so they can stand before God someday and hear him say, “Well done.”

Preachers should never shrink from the gospel message, he insisted, even if it is a difficult message for some to hear. Some of Jesus’ disciples left him because they could not accept what he was saying, Morgan noted

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