When God Seems Silent: The Congregation’s Perspective

 |  February 7, 2020

Steve’s alarm goes off Sunday morning. He irons his clothes, eats a quick breakfast, gets the kids ready with his wife, packs up the minivan, and drives to church. When Steve gets to church, he checks his kids in, goes to his Sunday School class, and then walks into the sanctuary for the morning worship service. The worship portion of the service is everything Steve had hoped it would be because the worship team is singing his favorite song! Then, Steve opens his bible as his pastor steps into the pulpit. When the sermon is over, Steve glances at his wife next to him and they make eye contact with each other. On the way to lunch, the two of them discuss how the sermon did not meet their needs, it was too dry, and they feel like the two of them are just not “being fed.” They need to hear a word from God. What is Steve to do? If a believer may feel this is also true for them, below are a few suggestions to help.

Be ready to listen

In the Old Testament, God spoke in many different forms. Some examples include in a burning bush (Exod 3:4), on a whisper (1 Kgs 19:12), from a mountain top (Exod 19:3), through angels (Gen 22:11), through a donkey (Num 22:28), but mostly through His prophets (Isa 6). However, that was before the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4). Today, the Holy Spirit speaks to the believer (John 14:25–26) and God speaks through His word (2 Tim 3:14–16). That being so, God then does not speak to a believer through a sermon. God does not speak through a song or hymn. God speaks to the believer while they are singing a song or hymn. God speaks to them while they are listening to a sermon. God speaks through the Holy Spirit to the believer’s heart, while the word of God is being taught and proclaimed by the pastor. The pastor’s job is to faithfully preach and proclaim the word of God while doing his best to re-present the text. The believer hears the word but is also responsible for receiving it (Mark 4). Therefore, God can use a sermon that is dry or a pastor that is not having a great morning communicating God’s word. Therefore, a believer is without excuse to hear from God. God is speaking; the believer must listen. As a believer attends a worship service, he or she must be willing to listen to God, no matter how He wants to speak to them. A good place to start is by simply telling God, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10).

Commit to attending church

Every believer should have a desire to attend church and worship the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:25).  It is easy for a believer to use the excuse of not “being fed” to hinder regular church attendance. The more one feels they are not “being fed,” the more likely he or she will not attend church. Simply put, if this happens, Satan wins. Instead, the believer should commit to attending worship even if he or she does not feel they are “being fed.” God can use the believer to serve in the church, grow in fellowship with other believers, and be trained in Sunday School for example. A church is more than just a pastor or a Sunday morning sermon. The church is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ alone (Matt 16:17–19). The believer should attend church for Jesus—not for selfish preferences or even to “be fed.” A Christian has a responsibility to Jesus Christ and, as a devoted follower, should desire to be a part of the Body and Bride for which Jesus Christ gave up His own life (Eph 5:25). God is bigger than anyone or anything. God is bigger than the pastor. God is bigger than your feelings. God can solve any problem or issue. The solution to the problem of not “being fed” or God’s silence will not come from giving up on attending church. The solution is to keep attending church, committing to listening to God, and to put selfish feelings aside to continue to love Christ and His Bride truly.

Have a heart checkup

As one can deduce, the issue of not “being fed” is a heart issue for each believer. God speaks while the believer is listening to a sermon, no matter who is preaching. Since this is the case, the believer would benefit from performing a heart checkup before leaving for the church worship service. First, a Christian should ask before he or she leaves for church, “Is my heart right with God?” Paul reminds the church in Corinth that before they receive the Lord’s Supper, they should examine themselves (1 Cor 11:28). A suggestion to apply this text is for the believer to look within his or her heart to see if he or she is pure, and he or she has nothing against their brother or sister. If so, one should make that right as soon as possible (Matt 5:21–26). This is a good suggestion, not just before the Lord’s Supper, but before every worship service, the believer attends. Secondly, the believer would benefit from spending time in personal prayer, talking with the Lord and spending time confessing one’s sin (Ps 32). It is amazing how many feelings and attitudes can change and become more holy when the speck is removed from one’s eye (Matt 7:1–6). These personal actions can provide a path for the believer to hear from God, even if He seems silent.

If the believer feels like they are not “being fed” it is not the pastor’s fault. It is not the church’s fault. It is not God’s fault. The guilty party is the believer who makes this statement. God can speak during any sermon, any worship service, or in any church that is His. God is speaking; the believer needs to be listening. When the believer listens to God, stays in His word, and checks his or her heart, he or she will always be fed.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35).

Paul Stohler is the Pastor of Arnett First Baptist Church in Arnett, Oklahoma, and is a D.Min. student in Preaching at Southwestern Seminary.

Category: Blog Post
Tags: ,

Share This Post: