“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed—what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in.”

– Oscar Romero

Imagine a sky without stars, a forest without trees, an ocean without waves. That’s what a church without challenges equates to. A sanctuary that doesn’t rattle the status quo, a gospel that tiptoes around discomfort, a message that doesn’t prick the human conscience or dive deep into the societal storms it’s nested within—can this diluted narrative still be called a gospel?

Picture a feast that leaves no crumbs, a painting that fails to evoke emotion. Such is the sermon many yearn for—bland, conflict-free homilies that offend no one. These theological musings—draped in sanctimonious robes—dodge controversy, floating in the realm of agreeability. They’re like sugar-coated pills—pleasant to swallow but stripped of their real purpose.

Imagine a lighthouse that casts no beam, a sun that provides no heat. Such are the preachers who shirk from tackling the bristly issues of the day, skirting around conflicts and hardships. By taking this path of least resistance, they choose the tranquility of candlelight over the blinding brilliance of a lightning bolt. They lose the chance to illuminate the world around them, to instigate the sort of profound change that stirs up storms before it brings about a calm.

This is the harsh reality we must confront: a church without challenges is as inconsequential as a song without melody, a story without climax. If the mystery of life doesn’t unsettle, if preachers steer clear of stormy waters—they risk being no more than murmurs in the wind, echoes in an empty chamber.

The world needs not this gentle whisper, but a resounding call to wakefulness—a charge to disrupt and rebuild.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.