A local church is going to be about as strong and sound as the preaching it receives and is willing to endure and support. Paul's solemn charge to Timothy (2 Tim 4:1-4) had a sense of urgency about it. Preach the word now, while brethren will endure it, or face a time when they will not.
As of lately, I have been paying particular attention as brethren (preachers and otherwise) express their concerns about the churches of today. One dominant concern seems to be the caliber of preaching coming from our pulpits. A majority of pulpits are preaching soft feel good sermons and are no different than the other churches surrounding them. Strong congregations cannot be built and maintained on this type of teaching. The sad thing is that many churches had rather have watered down sermons than real spiritual food. As long as churches demand it, there will be those who are willing to be paid to NOT preach the Gospel.
Sermons and classes with real doctrine content are held in disfavor by many of today's churches. The demand is for more "relevant" matters. Topics that address so-called "real problems" and "real life concerns" of "today's Christian" are replacing those that deal with what the Book says about man's basic spiritual problem, sin; and his real basic needs of conviction of sin and the salvation of his soul. It seems often that ministers that entertain and make brethren feel good about themselves, rather than producing godly sorrow leading to repentance or any real depth of Scriptural knowledge, are given the most favored status among brethren. Sermons that really teach the Bible are considered "uninteresting," "too structured," and even "crude" by some. All too often preachers who resort to such are asked to find some place else to do their preaching.
A congregation constantly fed on milk (or less) will not develop an appetite for sound doctrine. Those who may have had an appetite will soon lose it and possibly leave. Without a desire for sound doctrine churches are vulnerable to all kinds of fables or doctrines Neither motivational hype nor emotional manipulation is gospel preaching. It may enhance the speaker's standing with brethren as a dynamic speaker. But, it will not produce a well-grounded faith based upon a "thus saith the Lord."
Brethren, our preaching must follow the pattern that Paul outlined to Timothy. In form, it must have a well-rounded combination of reproving, rebuking and exhorting. In substance, it must have doctrine as the base. It is not an accident that Paul, in the preceding chapter, shows the Scriptures to be profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). Book, chapter, and verse preaching and teaching that quotes or reads Scriptures and then makes clear applications of the reading is seldom the desire today, but it is what once made preachers and congregations great!