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Churches can get the gospel garbled
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Sometimes churches say things that fail to communicate what they mean.

A friend sent me a photo of a church sign that had on its marquee, “Don’t Let Worries Kill You — Let the Church Help.”

When I was in college, my pastor was telling a story during his sermon about his visit to the Hoover Dam. As he described his visit, he said, “I looked over the whole dam project.” Nobody said a word, but when he realized how that sounded, his face turned red, and he immediately said, “I mean, the whole project of the dam.” When he corrected himself, the congregation burst out laughing.

Once when I was pastor in a different place and different time zone, I was going over the church bulletin. I noticed that the secretary had typed the title of a hymn that looked strange. I showed the bulletin to the music minister, and he said that he had not connected the lines of his “K” and the secretary mistook his handwriting for the letters “IC.” That explained why the bulletin said that we were going to sing, “Come Thou, Almighty Icing.” (Maybe the secretary heard there was going to be dinner on the grounds with cake after church.)

One Sunday years ago, I was about to preach, when a deacon offered this prayer, “Lord, help us make it through Brother Bob’s sermon.” I don’t know if he had stolen a look at my sermon notes and decided it was going to be a tough one to survive, but he told me later that his prayer came out wrong.

All of this confusing communication serves to illustrate an important way that you can pray for those who preach the gospel. In Colossians 4:4, the apostle Paul makes this request: “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

The plain gospel is that we are all sinners, in need of a Savior, but Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin, and the only way we can get to heaven is by faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, churches can sometimes get that message garbled. They may say there are many different ways to heaven. But Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). They make salvation a matter of good deeds rather than faith alone. Yet the Bible says, “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).

So the next time you pray for your pastor’s sermon, add a request that he makes the gospel crystal clear. I promise, it will help you make it through his message.

Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more "Holy Humor" on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at