A few weeks back a fellow in our church shared his testimony with me. He said he'd been taking his young family to church once upon a time because he figured it was a good thing to do, and he'd attended there for two years, sitting week in and week out under gospel preaching, before finally one Sunday it occurred to him: "I'm a sinner! I need this gospel!"
I imagine the internal struggle of his pastor for those two years. I know it well myself. Ever preached the gospel dickens out of a text in front of a crowd of stoic rural New Englanders? My lands, it can keep a preacher humble. (The assorted experiences of gospel wakefulness can keep a preacher hopeful.)
What are we doing when we commit to gospel-centered preaching and teaching in the face of non-apparent results? Every chance we get we hold up Jesus Christ as preeminent and precious, we exult in his glorious excellencies, and we present the gospel boldly, clearly, and with unction. Still nary a crack in the surface of reception. It is like preaching, as they say, to a brick wall.
Should we switch things up? Try another tack? Testable non-results is one of the reasons so many churches tuck the gospel behind fog and lasers or adjust their teaching to the 7 Steps busywork of moralistic therapeutic deism. I mean, isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Brothers, let us be "out of our minds" together on this. Let's preach the word in and out of season. Let's commit to the utter foolishness of preaching, understanding that sometimes God puts us on purpose before a crowd for whom the gospel hardens, not softens.
There may be other reasons (fixable or not, adjustable or not) why we see little fruit, but it will never be because the gospel is being preached.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
-- 1 Corinthians 2:2