How can we stop this sort of thing from happening? Firstly, churches, you need to make your expectations clear from the outset. A prospective pastor may be a wonderful chap, a great people person and a wise counsellor, but what is his preaching like when he visits? If he really wants to be the man who is called to your church he will do his best to preach well on his visits. He will use his well-worn illustrations that are guaranteed to get a laugh or a tear. The message may be carefully crafted according to some trusted homiletic method. But how much are you fed by the ministry? Is the Bible being explained and applied to your conscience? Is it the Bible that moves your affections or an anecdote of the Chicken Soup for the Soul variety? Do you feel that you are better equipped to read the Bible for yourself? If not, think again. He may be a really nice guy, but he shouldn’t be called to your church. Hang in there and don’t settle for second best.
Secondly, Bible colleges, seminaries, and schools of theology, you need to check your curriculum. Are your students getting equipped for a lifetime of ministry? Does what they learn at the seminary merely give them the ability to teach the same books of the Bible that they learn in class? Or, even worse, does it equip them merely to be great communicators with nothing to communicate? In some countries the turnover of pastors is ridiculous. But it is no wonder is it if they rely on a stock of sermons for their pulpit ministry? They have not been equipped for lifetime of learning and teaching.
Thirdly, preachers, you must read, read, read. Listening to a dynamic preacher on the internet may be a real blessing. But how much will that enable you to mine the Scriptures yourself? Isn’t it just a little too easy to copy down the points he makes and the illustrations he uses and refashion them for your people? I once heard a shocking statistic that suggested that a large percentage of preachers never read a book once they leave seminary. If that is you, then repent. You need to be feeding your own soul. That means that you must be a voracious reader. Only then can you feed others. And it is not enough to read the easy books, the best sellers that everyone is reading. You need to be stretching yourself, reading the challenging books that will broaden your mind, open up new vistas onto the Word and enable you to dig out of that Word the truth that your people desperately want.