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Despite the recent popularity of books revealing near-death experiences — such as Proof of Heaven, which has spent the last 27 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and 90 Minutes in Heaven, which sold 5 million copies — scholars and some pastors told the CNN Belief Blog that churches don't preach on heaven much anymore. Some said heaven is hardly talked about in seminaries at all, and few high-profile pastors spend much time on the subject. 

“People say that the only time they hear about heaven is when they go to a funeral,” said Gary Scott Smith, author of Heaven in the American Imagination and a history professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

"Talk of heaven answers a universal question: What happens when we die," says the Rev. John Price, author of Revealing Heaven, a book offering a Christian perspective of near-death experiences. “Ever since people started dying, people have wondered, where did they go? Where are they now? Is this what happens to me?” said Price.

Price said his stories of near-death have helped people, and those who've had similar experiences of heaven should “shout them from the rooftops.”

“I’ve gone around to many churches to talk about this, and the venue they give me is just stuffed,” he said. “People are really hungry for it.”

“It’s a tough topic for a pastor,” said Lisa Miller, a former religion columnist for The Washington Post. “If you get too literal, you can risk sounding too silly. If you don’t talk about it, you’re evading one of the most important questions about theology and why people come to church.”

How often do you preach on heaven? What Scripture passages do you use? What themes do you present about it? What challenges do you experience in preaching on the topic? 

Toni Ridgaway serves as Content Editor for SermonCentral.com and its sister site, ChurchLeaders.com.

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Bruce Parsons

commented on Jun 5, 2013

I find it interesting that there are so many people with such dogmatic ideas of what Heaven is like yet the scripture says: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I Cor 2:9. So much of the language used to describe God and the things of God gives us but the faintest of glimpses into these things. Our puny minds cannot grasp the concepts involved so God has expressed things with words that give us something to picture in our heads but, in fact, it is like trying to explain calculus to a dog. Indeed the glass is dimm. I Cor 13:12. I agree that we should talk about what we do know: Heaven is real. God has prepared a place for us there. We will be with Jesus! For eternity! But I do not think that we need to speculate as to what the details of life will be like there or the specifics of what day to day existence might be like.

Chris Surber

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Not me! I did two weeks ago.

Lafern Cobb

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Love to talk, preach, teach, discuss HEAVEN! It is our next home. It is our future. It is the direction we are heading, the road we are walking on and our hope for everyone on this earth! Do we have many details? Maybe not. But then do we have a picture of Jesus? Guess maybe God planned it that way so He could comfort each individual and their needs. So the answer is YES! Both my husband and I love to speak about Heaven.

Bill Stewart

commented on Jun 5, 2013

The Bible tells us that God is spirit and heaven is a spiritual realm. What we know about the spiritual realm is affected by cartoons about Casper the friendly ghost and movies about haunted houses and things that go bump in the night. The few descriptions we have in the Bible are nothing like this. The Bible describes a place of light and beauty and a place full of worship. Naturally the Biblical writers have to use earthly terminology to describe a spiritual place and so the ideas we get are very vague. Actually, I don't think our ideas even come close to what heaven is really like.

Bala Samson

commented on Jun 5, 2013

John Wesley, while being shown through a nobleman?s house, admired the expensive works of art and other symbols of wealth and culture. ?I too could love theses things,? he said, ?but there is another world.?

Ned Beadel

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Randy Alcorn has a great book called, "Heaven." It has inspired me to do a series on it, which I am in right now. I heartily recommend the book to all. It dispels a lot of mis-information in the evangelical church about heaven. What's so amazing to me is how much the Bible actually does say about heaven and that Jesus spoke more about heaven and hell than anyone else in Scripture. What's really surprising is that I never took one class in seminary on heaven and yet it is a place where we will spend eternity. I also recommend Wayne Grudem's chapters on heaven in his systematic theology book.

commented on Jun 5, 2013

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:1-4 Scriptures throughout the Bible as above, Jesus said we will dwell on Earth forever.

commented on Jun 5, 2013

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:1-4 Scriptures throughout the Bible as above, Jesus said we will dwell on Earth forever.

Jonathan Hughes

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Pastors don't preach about heaven not knowing any of the basic teachings of Christ for crying out loud. Jesus says heaven does not come by observation. Heaven is in you. The spirit of Jesus in you making you into a new creature is heaven in you. When Jesus comes back his reward will be with him. What Jesus has prepared no one knows anything about. Satan can show lying wonders to us even when people think heaven or hell is being shown to NDE people. Jesus alone is heaven in us. See whatever else thinking it is heaven or hell see the devils jail.

Lori Colbo

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Heaven and hell are both missing from the Church. John Lennon asked us to imagine no hell below us, above us only sky. No great theology. I asked my pastor once if he could preach on heaven sometime. His response was "I'll keep it in mind." He went on to say to the effect that we need to concentrate more on what we are doing for Christ on earth. I don't get why pastors shy away from it. It brings great hope and encouragement and might lead someone to salvation.

Sheldon Boyd

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Ned Beadel: I too read Randy's book and found it one of the most helpful books on heaven I ever read. I am considering a teaching series in 2014 on Heaven. If you read this I would be curious about how you approached the series and how long you decided to make it.

Garry Dock

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Yes the scripture does say in 1Cor. 9 the eyes have not seen, the ear hasn't heard what God has prepared for those who believe, but the Spirit has revealed them to us. Yes it is a Spiritual place and every time I speak about that place my heart leaps with in me. After you live a long time and so many friends and loved ones have gone on. After a while you have more over there than you have over here. It makes one more excited when they hear about such a place.

Garry Dock

commented on Jun 5, 2013

Yes the scripture does say in 1Cor. 9 the eyes have not seen, the ear hasn't heard what God has prepared for those who believe, but the Spirit has revealed them to us. Yes it is a Spiritual place and every time I speak about that place my heart leaps with in me. After you live a long time and so many friends and loved ones have gone on. After a while you have more over there than you have over here. It makes one more excited when they hear about such a place.

Vincent Aja

commented on Jun 6, 2013

This text is to remind me of the Lord Jesus` statement which says that, the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church (Mathew 16:18), or in another word that He has the seven thousand people that have never bowed unto Baal (1Kings 19:18). Politics, money and science will never allow pastors to offer the less privilege ones one thing that has brought them to Christ Jesus which is the heaven. 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:1-4). As far I know you guys were doing great work here.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 6, 2013

Their accounts are sensational. But are they real ?. I've never read one the millions of books published by those who have had these 'out-of-the-body experiences . But i'm told , they mostly talk of having differnt experiences and descriptions than those found in the Bible ?But the Bible tells us that the member s of the Body of Christ are seated in the heavenlies ,(Eph) because the Lord Jesus Christ , their resurrected head is already there and the body must follow the head .Amen ?.

John Sears

commented on Jun 6, 2013

Hollywood has made talk of heaven feel "silly" or "fanciful" with it's terrible portrayal of what "heaven" is. I don't talk so much about "heaven"; instead I talk about "eternity." And when I talk about eternity I talk about a bodily resurrection like Jesus'.

Rolante A. Santos

commented on Jun 7, 2013

I thought that there is no specific place where the heaven is may be heaven is in this earth. if we can analyze the genre of Revelation it is more on myth and or it is in context of the second coming our Lord Jesus Christ.

Barry Watson

commented on Jun 7, 2013

I often hear, "Jesus preached more on hell than on heaven." That's not true! He DESCRIBED hell in far greater detail than He did heaven. As far as all these stories of near-death "heaven" experiences, they are the work of the great deceiver, Satan. Nobody comes back from heaven or hell after they die. The "light" that people see is Satan's deception, I believe, because he wants people who are not saved to believe they're going to heaven, and these books and stories midlead millions to believe so, also.

Malcolm Harris

commented on Jun 7, 2013

Those who believe that "near-death-Experiences" are a window into heaven would do well to read Mortal Minds by Dr G.M.Woerlee, published by Prothemeus Books. He provides a thorough discussion of this experience and a valid biologicl/medical explanation. I believe in heaven but I think NDE is nonsense at best and a delusion at worst.

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