Wonder Bread Preaching

Wonderbread1I was listening to a show on Christian radio yesterday and the host mentioned that what American Christians need and want is deep, compelling, convicting, expository, and doctrinal preaching. She’s not the first person I’ve heard on the radio who has made a statement along those lines, and of course the callers all agree with those sentiments.

I, however, am not so sure. I certainly agree that American Christians NEED that kind of preaching, but I’m far less convinced that they WANT that kind of preaching.

For instance, in our city (and I strongly suspect this holds true for the majority of American cities) the churches that are most popular with Christians are the ones where the sermons are light, entertaining, topical, amusing, anecdotal, doctrine-free, and generally about 15 to 25 minutes long. There are a few exceptions, but the rule still applies. Light and fluffy is what draws crowds.

So why is there a big difference between what Christians SAY they want to hear, and what they actually choose to listen to on Sunday?

I think part of the answer might lie in what one ad man I heard called the “Wonder Bread Rule.” He described how when mothers were surveyed in the 1980s about the kind of bread they wanted their family to eat, most said they wanted them to eat natural, whole grain, nourishing wheat breads, with thick chewy crusts. However, when those same moms were surveyed as to their actual buying habits it was found that the majority of them actually bought “Wonder Bread” style breads – soft, bleached white breads, with little or no actual nutritional value. When asked about the difference, most explained that Wonder Bread was what their family preferred to eat and that they didn’t want to have to deal with the hassle and complaints associated with getting them to eat the things that would actually be good for them.

Most Christians probably know what kind of “whole wheat” preaching they need, but they are deathly afraid of the family being bored or irritated or overtaxed by it, and instead choose the Wonder Bread path of least resistance. It may have little or no nutritional value, but its attractive, easy to consume and produces the least complaints.

“You are what you eat” as the old saying goes, and if what the American church is consuming is usually the sermonic version of junk food, should we be surprised it’s so unhealthy?


About Andrew Webb

I was converted out of paganism and the occult in 1993 and while I was initially Charismatic/Arminian in my theology, I became Reformed and Presbyterian through bible study and the influence of ministries like RC Sproul's. After teaching in local bible studies, and taking seminary courses part time, I began to feel called to the ministry in 1997. I was Ordained as an RE at Christ Covenant PCA in Hatboro, PA in 2000 and as a TE by Central Carolina Presbytery in 2001 when I was called to be the Organizing Pastor/Church Planter for Providence PCA Mission, Cross Creek PCA's church plant in Fayetteville, NC (home to Ft. Bragg and Pope Airforce Base). In 2005 when the Providence PCA Particularized I was blessed to be called by the congregation to be their Pastor
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4 Responses to Wonder Bread Preaching

  1. Chip Nelson says:

    For me, a good sermon is well researched biblical disortation combined with historical reference to Reformation authors. The standard reading of a part of Scripture followed by the Pastor’s impression or how it relates to current events or God forbid, a cheerleader act is all too common. I attended an Independent Biblical Church in my teens where you needed a Bible to stay up with the Pastor’s sermons, too bad they preached the false Doctrine of Arminianism which I was saved from by the Holy Ghost later in life. Still, it was enlightening to follow the sermon “Biblically”. Even less common are references to Calvin, Luther etc. Just my 2¢.

  2. CMJwyrd says:

    Reblogged this on Things I Discuss With My Cats and commented:
    II Timothy 4:3-4
    “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

  3. Trey Jasso says:

    I’m surprised that an article that is rightly against images of Christ has an image of Christ in it.

  4. Andrew Webb says:

    Trey, I think you’re commenting on the wrong post…

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