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preaching article I'd Rather Preach to Angels Than a Megachurch Crowd

I'd Rather Preach to Angels Than a Megachurch Crowd

based on 7 ratings
Aug 15, 2013
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I’ll never forget standing among a crowd in a tunnel as the University of Minnesota marching band strode past, row after row of drums thundering, on their way to the homecoming football game.

The noise was so deafening that the rhythm seemed to commandeer my circulatory system, until my heart was pulsating along with the drumbeat. I felt my individuality melt away as I become part of an organism far bigger than myself. The energy was incredible. I have never felt so ready to run through a brick wall, even though I had no reason or motivation to do so.

Crowds fuel emotions and create energy.

Like most public speakers I know, I feed off the energy of a crowd when I preach. There is something special about a standing-room only congregation on Christmas Eve or Easter morning that inspires the preacher to really bring it. It’s easier to feel the power of the Spirit when you see 400 pairs of eyes locked on you, taking in your every word.

I imagine it’s even more of a rush to speak in a megachurch auditorium, surrounded by a thousand or more worshippers who draw strength from the sheer force of numbers.

Then there’s the nursing home service.

As part of its mission, my congregation has committed to be a presence in eight different healthcare facilities in town. I can assure you that one does not feed off the energy of these tiny congregations. I have spoken in rooms sparsely populated by those in wheelchairs who barely exhibit a pulse among them. I have looked out over the small gathering, looking in vain for someone who is awake, much less tracking with anything I am saying.

I am sure this is, at best, inefficient proclamation. Some have even said it is a waste of time and resources that could better be spent focusing on attracting masses of people who would produce the energy and financial contributions that make us feel like we are a vibrant, spirit-filled congregation.

There are times—when I hear the snores and the interruptions of discontent while I’m trying to tell the story—that I wonder if proclaiming in these settings is worthwhile.

But something about it feels right. I can’t even put my finger on it. Partly, it is a chance to proclaim to the staff worker or to the family member who may be visiting and mourning the decline of a beloved parent. More than that, though, it is perhaps the purest form of sharing the Word that I experience.

There is no way one can proclaim at these places for any ulterior motives. I do not do it to build up my congregation’s numbers, to attract new members, or to connect with those who could contribute financially to our ministry. I certainly do not do it to experience the spiritual energy of the group.

I simply share the Word with those nearing the end of life’s journey—some who have faithfully taken part in God’s mission on earth, some who may not have done so. I do it in the belief that it is wrong to abandon such people to a life without the Word simply because they have little or no ability to respond to me. I speak to them in the hope that occasionally these precious and fading children of God will be able to experience the love of God in these words at a time when they may especially need that experience.

I can’t explain it, but when I bring a worship service to these people, somehow I feel as though I am preaching to a gathering of angels. It is at these moments, rather than when I’m preaching to a crowd, that I understand the privilege it is to bear the message of Christ to the world. 

Nathan Aaseng serves as pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI. He has had more than 170 books published, sacred and secular, for readers from 8 to adult. His latest work is The Five Realms, an epic fantasy based on 1 Corinthians 1:27.

Talk about it...

Dutch Boer avatar
Dutch Boer
0 days ago
You are preaching to Angels Pastor! For they and Christ have turned an ear.
Doug Bower avatar
Doug Bower
0 days ago
Mega Churches don't give most of us the time of day. How many of us would even be called to such places. Those that are called to them often spend years in those Churches. This hardly opens the door for others to preach in a mega church. That means that most preaching takes place in smaller, much more intimate crowds where somebody might actually fall asleep during a sermon. I am not sure why we preachers keep acknowledging mega churches. Is it idolatry? Is it wishful thinking? Is it distraction. Yeah, lets keep preaching to the Angels. They are sitting in the pews and seats of gatherings all around the country and world. Christ first. Numbers second.
Jonathan Hughes avatar
Jonathan Hughes
0 days ago
People have no idea that they are entertaining angels. Religions lie as to what they look like. One reason why people should not arrest anyone for anything.
Jonathan Hughes avatar
Jonathan Hughes
0 days ago
People have no idea when they are entertaining angels. Religions lie as to what they look like. One reason why people should not arrest anyone for anything.
Laurel Bunker avatar
Laurel Bunker
0 days ago
Gentlemen, would you not say that the call to preach the gospel based on our love for God alone compells us to preach to whomever,whenever because He calls us to do so? As a college Pastor, I have preached to small groups of people, young, old, black, white, immigrant, living but dying as they are old, dying though barely posessing the will to live in their young uninspired souls. 2 Timothy encourages us to, "Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching." So whether it be to a mega church crowd or to a band of angels, preach the gopsel so that whoever is present may hear a fresh word from an emblazoned heart that remembers what it is to be lost and found and in love with the God of all creation, His Christ and the beautiful Holy Ghost.
Daniel Leavitt avatar
Daniel Leavitt
0 days ago
Yes indeed.
Carrol Carter avatar
Carrol Carter
0 days ago
To God be the glory. The bible tells us angels hearken unto the voice of His word. Preach on all ye His servants...
Jimmy Little avatar
Jimmy Little
0 days ago
Thank you Bro. Nathan. Early on in my ministry I preached and sang in nursing homes in my home town and still love to sing to these dear souls. I was also pastoring and after five years of ministering in the nursing homes my wife and I began to wonder if ministering to the elderly and funerals was our calling. One evening after the closing prayer, the daughter of an elderly gentleman ask me to speak to her father. I went over to where he was and talked to him about his soul and what Jesus had done for him to be a child of God. That very night I received one of the best blessing in my ministry as I prayed with this man and he accepted Christ as his Savior. The very next week he went home to be with his Lord. My point in this is that if we are faithful to God He is always faithful to us. God revealed to me that night that we don't have to speak to large crowds to be a servant for Him. Speaking to the lost is our calling. To "simply share the Word to the ones nearing life's journey" is so very important to the Kingdom of God. Thank you so much for this article because I was truly blessed and reassured to know that there are still preachers out there that haven't gotten so big with popularity they've forgotten their calling. May God continue to bless you as you continue to be a blessing
Chuck Patrick avatar
Chuck Patrick
0 days ago
Wow...amen
Zachary Bartels avatar
Zachary Bartels
0 days ago
Beautiful piece!
Terry Kornegay avatar
Terry Kornegay
0 days ago
I have been preaching, teaching, visiting and leading a nursing home choir now for several years. I spend 8 to 10 hours a week in nursing homes. At one point I lead a very active youth group as well and it was a humbling experience to fellowship and teach those getting ready to step off into earthly life and those preparing to step into eternity. The biggest difference is that at the nursing home, the people care about and appreciate you. Suddenly James 1:27 hits you square in the heart. I don't know about mega churches. They don't exist where I live but I do know about going to a long term care facility to deliver God's Word and receiving much more than I could ever bring. I could go on about praying over the comatose or watching the staff linger to hear portions of a lesson or begin singing along with us as they went about their work nearby. Matthew 25:31 - 36 fairly jumps off the page when I walk through those doors at a nursing home. And I thank God for each one whether sleeping, snoring or asking questions during a sermon. They are precious because when you have nothing but the Lord, you know you NEED nothing but the Lord.
Debra L. Mason avatar
Debra L. Mason
0 days ago
Very nice!
Debra L. Mason avatar
Debra L. Mason
0 days ago
Very nice!
Scott Wiens avatar
Scott Wiens
0 days ago
Wonderful article. God's word will NOT return void. Thanks for sharing.
Douglas Hallman avatar
Douglas Hallman
0 days ago
Having served as the chaplain in a local nursing home I say "amen" to what Nathan writes. It is a blessing to preach to crowds but it is an equal blessing to preach Christ to a few in a Bible study or to one weakened saint at the bed side. How blessed and privileged we are to have been called to "preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and coming again!
David Bahler avatar
David Bahler
0 days ago
One of the greatest joys of my ministry has been to take services in dementia units. You have the feeling that you are preaching to a void, but in actual fact, when it come to giving the host to the people, it often feels like you are looking into the eyes of Jesus. I thank God that he has given his ministry to me.
Michael Whitt avatar
Michael Whitt
0 days ago
I serve two Assisted Living Facilities each Sunday. Yes, they fall asleep, they snore, they are outspoken in their thoughts. Yet, if I ever miss a Sunday they never forget it. It is a Blessing to share God's word with these wonderful men and women. I agree with you, it is not for money nor to grow a congregation, as I volunteer my ministry, and I currently do not have a church. Yet, my Faith in The Lord grows every Sunday, simply because I am Blessed to minister to these wonderful elders. Thank you for the article, thank you for serving are forgotten elders. may God Bless you in your service.
William Pierson avatar
William Pierson
0 days ago
I too, have a ministry to seniors, while others are concerned with youth. These folks are near death, and need to know the promises Jesus made to us, and give them His peace, as they pass from this world. They are frightened, alone, and "hope they've done enough good things to get into heaven"! Lord, help me to give them Your truth !!
William Pierson avatar
William Pierson
0 days ago
I too, have a ministry to seniors, while others are concerned with youth. These folks are near death, and need to know the promises Jesus made to us, and give them His peace, as they pass from this world. They are frightened, alone, and "hope they've done enough good things to get into heaven"! Lord, help me to give them Your truth !!
Benjamin Pine Lampad avatar
Benjamin Pine Lampad
0 days ago
Thanks for the article Nathan Aaseng ,it?s really encouraging and its truth opens our eyes to what most value in our ministry,,,keep up and GOD bless you the more...
Andrew Moffatt avatar
Andrew Moffatt
0 days ago
Great article.

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