“On one occasion Chaderton broke off after two hours in the pulpit, declaring that he proposed to trespass no longer on his hearers’ patience. At that, his biographer narrated, ‘the auditory cried out, [wonder not if hungry people craved more meat] “For God’s sake, Sir, Go on! Go on!”’”
I wonder if, in this age of the soundbite, such behaviour is regarded as strange. It may only seem like a quaint story from the past, but is the fact that it is so far from much of our present experience of church a reflection of the condition of our hearts?
Even in our recent history, Dr Lloyd-Jones encouraged churches to give their preachers time. Do we? Should we? Can we become too concerned with modern views which say that people can only concentrate for a certain number of minutes? Can we become too concerned with the slick powerpoint presentation?
Of course there is bad preaching around, but bad preaching shouldn't mean no preaching, or dumbed-down preaching. One of the judgements that God said would come to His people was a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord (Amos 8v11).
May that not happen! I am challenged by this Chaderton, not to preach longer, but to pray for more unction, and for more unction upon the hearts of the hearers that they become hungry - even desperate - for the Word. When ministry colleagues of mine have travelled to Eastern Europe and China they report that people will happily sit for two hours or more and listen to the Word preached. When I visit my brothers and sisters in the Afro-Caribbean churches, they will regularly and hungrily sit for well over an hour under the preaching of God's Word.
Is there something wrong with us? God's Word is powerful and effective (Heb 4v12), it is to build us up (Acts 20v32)! We need to have a solid foundation of doctrine and powerful application so that we stand firm and complete (2 Tim 3v16-17).
God, renew our desire after Your Word (Psalm 119v127)!