Pastors: Stop Trying to be Popular

By Shane Idleman Published on January 2, 2023

I’ve been astonished lately as some​ prominent “Christian” leaders have caved into wokeness and political correctness. 

They “feel” that we should stop “preaching” at people and start being more passive and less confrontational. Never mind the fact that Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). According to many, it’s time to replace the pulpit with a couch, and preaching with conversing.

Sadly, many churches still carry their books, promote their material and seek to model their churches after them.​ ​

In Desperate Need of Leadership

There is a troubling trend in the evangelical church as a whole. We are in desperate need of genuine leadership — broken, humble people who are not afraid to admit that they need God; men who are more worried about prayer than about status and recognition; men who petition God rather than position themselves. 

Many men want the recognition, but not the brokenness; the honor, but not the humility. The state of the family today is disheartening as well. Men have largely forsaken their God-given role as spiritual leaders in their homes — that, no one can deny. And I believe that the pulpit is partly to blame.

The truth is often neglected, watered-down, or avoided altogether in the hope of not offending members, and with the dream of building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned; repentance is never sought; and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict.

The Good News is About Repentance Too

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), yet many avoid words such as sin and repentance. The good news about Christ can only be appreciated with the bad news as the backdrop. There are times when the saints must be fed, and there are times when the sinners must be warned (C.H. Spurgeon). Preaching, witnessing and teaching are to be done with God-given authority to truly be effective. When we fail to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, we run the risk of “encouraging sin” and “perverting the words of the living God” (Jeremiah 23).

Pastors are to be pillars who support truth, not who oppose it. Truth is not “flexible” — it’s solid and unyielding. Truth liberates. Truth rebuilds. Truth restores. Truth heals. Truth transforms. Truth prevails — you don’t change truth — truth changes you! We must begin here.

Where are They?

Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs calling nations to repentance? Where are the Peters and Pauls who spoke with such authority that martyrdom did not silence them? Though they are dead, they still speak! Where are the men like Wycliffe, who stood so unyielding for the truth that he was called The Morning Star of Reformation?

Where are the Tyndales and Husses, burned at the stake for simply declaring the truth? Where are the Luthers who, when asked to recant or face possible execution, said, “Here I stand; I can do no other”? Where are the John Calvins shaping the religious thoughts of our Western culture? Where are the John Knoxes crying, “Give me Scotland [for the cause of Christ] or I die”? Where are the Whitefields shaking continents? Where are the Howell Harrises, Daniel Rowlands, and Griffith Joneses, who preached with such passion during the Welsh revivals of the 18th century that we still honor them today?

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I say again, “Where are they?” Where are the John Wesleys saying, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and we will shake the gates of hell?” Where are the David Brainerds spending so much time in prayer that even the great Jonathan Edwards was convicted? Where are the Robert Murray McCheynes who, even though he died at age 29, was one of Scotland’s most anointed preachers — causing people to weep before even preaching a word (not emotionalism, but anointing)?

Where are the Spurgeons speaking with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? Where are the Evan Robertses who, during the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5, preached so powerfully against sin that people cried out to truly know God? Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?

God Grant Us Wisdom and Strength to Proclaim Truth

As the church falls deeper into self-reliance and further from reliance on God, our need for bold leadership has never been greater. Change in our nation will only occur when there is a strong conviction of sin, genuine faith, humility, and sincere repentance, beginning in the pulpits. May God grant us the wisdom and strength to proclaim these truths.

We must stop confusing God’s patience with His approval and preach with conviction from the pulpits again — as dying men to dying men.


Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at

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