UMC Pastor Reverses Decision To Preach Prepared Sermon After Learning Sinners Might Hear It
Rev. Glenn Hartsell, of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Louisville, KY made an important decision this Sunday morning. He shelved a sermon he had been working on all week. His text was Exodus 20, and he was going to share how God put moral laws in place to protect humans from the damaging effects of sin.
But during a conversation with his song leader he realized that there could be sinners in the congregation. “That’s when I reversed my decision,” says Rev. Hartsell. “Sure, the sermon was based on a Bible passage talking about the 10 Commandments, but there is no reason to say that things are wrong when there are people sitting in the pews doing the wrong things. These are innocent sinners who just came in to hear a nice word. What kin of a preacher would I be if I told them things that would hurt their feelings?”
Astrid Moonbeam is a longtime member and appreciates the pastor’s approach. “We love the good reverend, in part because he knows when to talk against sin and when to let it ride. When he needs to preach against immigration laws or the sanctity of marriage, he just cuts loose. He doesn’t care who is in the room. But when it comes to personal morality issues, he knows how to be quiet.”
Hartsell says he learned this preaching style while in seminary. “I had a very wise professor tell me, ‘the Bible is more powerful than a military airstrike. But just because you have all of that power doesn’t mean you have to use it.’ And I’ve been picking and choosing my battles ever since.”