When Karen and I served Travis Park UMC in San Antonio the local church embarked on an inovative marketing campaign. On a large billboard, close to downtown, our local church vision reached all of the city "Hell and Judgement, Not Included." I got a call from a fundamentalist pastor of that fair city who was horrified by the message, "I can't believe that you will not preach about hell from your pulpit. You are putting the souls of your parishoners in peril." I asked him "Do you preach about hell and judgement in your church?" When he answered yes then I offered the following explanation for my behavior;
"I don't preach hell and judgement for 2 reasons. One reason is that you and your peers do such a good job preaching hell and judgement that it makes no sense for me to preach it as well. It would be piling on. You have that hell and judgement thing covered so I don't need to. Secondly, Jesus gives me a set of things to do in the gospels. Jesus says 'If you want to be my disciple, do this...' If I pay attention and do what Jesus is calling me to do in the gospels, it becomes more than a full time job. It takes me 60 hours a week to do the stuff Jesus says to do. Matthew 25 is the most labor intensive assignment ever, visit folks in prison, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, welcome the stranger, etc. I don't have time to preach hell and judgement. You're just going to have to cover that for me I guess."
The pastor on the other end of the line, true to his word, told me he thought I was going to hell. I thanked him for his time and we ended our conversation. So is it important for you to hear hell and judgement from the pulpit?