It’s an occupational hazard. Teachers like crowds. The more people in the crowd, the greater the potential impact of the teaching.
Problem is, for years now, people have been saying that to draw a crowd you need to soften the message. You can whip them into shape once they’re committed to attending.
Three problems with that. First, how do you get people to commit to anything using soft teaching? Isn’t commitment a hard thing?
Second, that wasn’t Jesus’ experience. Check out this lesson following some of the hardest teaching we have in the Gospels:
After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Matthew 7:28-8:1 (NLT)
Sounds to me like the crowds didn’t come because Jesus softened the message. They came because He challenged them with difficult truths. (Not difficult to understand; difficult to live.)
And not only was soft teaching not effective in Jesus’ day, it’s not the driver in ours either. Some of the fastest growing churches in the country are led by guys who don’t even know how to soft-peddle the truth. People like Perry Noble and Steven Furtick preach it hard—and people are drawn.
So, while I try to make my teaching understandable and relevant and even funny, don’t expect me to make it soft.
You may find yourself laughing until it hurts.