I know a certain fellow who was approached by a few parishioners after giving his first sermon ever. Some of them said it was helpful to them because he stuck to the Bible text in front of him. Others said the sermon was encouraging and expressed gratefulness because they really needed to hear it. Still others praised his eloquence during the delivery without mentioning the content at all.
A few weeks after that fellow preached, a lady approached him after the service with suggestions for changes she submitted for his consideration. In her opinion, these changes would make the second sermon more appealing to the people. Like adding stories and personal viewpoints instead of sticking to the text and explaining it carefully and in detail.
Is he to heed this advice or to rather keep on sticking to the text?
Brothers, situations like these are not to be unexpected. In fact, we must expect them. Being who we are, it should not be a surprise for us to realize that we people -yes, even God's people- tend to gather around what we want to hear instead of paying attention to what we need to hear that we may apply it into our lives. The Bible says that salvation comes by hearing and we must believe that people are saved through the proclamation of the gospel and the teaching of the bible. If we are to be faithful disciples of Jesus we must persevere in this and not yield an inch on this.
As a matter of fact, persevering in the truth does not mean we are to close our ears from people's opinions and criticism. We are Christ's disciples and not Christ himself. We are not infallible. That is the reason why what they have to say about our preaching and teaching can help us even a little bit. Surely, we may find at least a grain of truth in their words and we will do well in listening them carefully. Perhaps the preacher mentioned above ought to pay attention to not become too professorial in his approach to the text keeping the sheep confused in innecesary details or in using too many big words -and unexplained!
What we have just said is not to be taken as a suggestion for preachers to make a complete overhaul to their preaching just to appeal poor souls who listen to sermons but not with open bibles and fingers running through the text. Our preaching should direct people to Christ rather than blocking them from coming to Him. Entertaining them does the latter and that's why the loving thing for us to do here is not to give them what they want but rather provide for them what they need. That way we reflect God's own heart because God doesn't give us the preaching that we want. He gives us the preaching that we need.