The Church Needs Conviction, Not Candy

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Shane Idleman

Let me state up front that I’m quite aware of my own shortcomings as a pastor. We all struggle with something, but do we humble ourselves, repent and return in the power of the Spirit. or do we continue to quench and grieve the Spirit? 

The difference is life-changing! 

Offering Candy When We Need Conviction

Please consider sharing this with the pastors and Christian leaders you know. Even though America’s spiritual cancer is consuming all facets of life, it’s not too late to call our nation to repentance. 

Sadly, many of the spiritual surgeons—American pastors—are feeding us the very thing they’re called to remove: Giving us candy instead of conviction, sugar instead of surrender. 

Knowing Not That the Spirit Has Departed 

The atmosphere of our gatherings often reflects the heart of our leadership. Are we joyful, repentant, and filled with reverence toward God, or are we acting like rock stars focused on entertainment? 

Are we sashaying on the stage, modeling the newest clothing trends and using silly sermon illustrations because we lack the fullness of the Spirit? If so, we may be like Samson when “he knew not that the Spirit had departed” (see Judg. 16:20).

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The Fruit of Spiritual Barrenness 

When we lack the fire of the Spirit and the thundering of truth, we replace them with gimmicks and games. Granted, I’m all for sermon illustrations if they are truly prompted by God and not being used to cover the lack of anointing on our preaching. 

Instead of spending time with God as broken, humble messengers needing a touch from Him, we often spend time filling our minds with the world. Kicking a Bible, swallowing a sword, spitting in a person’s face, taking a bath and getting a haircut as sermon illustrations are simply byproducts of spiritual barrenness. 

The Problem Isn’t Sunday but Monday

My heart is broken. I weep for what we are currently witnessing from the pulpits of America. Without the fullness of the Spirit, we can easily become weak, woke and carnal or even dead as a cemetery. 

In all cases, we need the cry of Psalm 85:6 (ESV), “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” That must be our plea as well as our passion.

We are watchmen, not rock stars who need greenrooms full of delights and water chilled to 40 degrees. We must be part of the solution rather than the problem. 

Darkness Should Not Entertain Us

A.W. Tozer reminds us that “who we are all week is who we will be when we step to the pulpit.” The problem really isn’t Sunday, it’s Monday and Tuesday and so on. 

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Ironically, as I was finishing this article, one prominent evangelical seemed to support Taylor Swift’s new lyrics on X. What we watch and listen to affects the heart; it’s impossible to separate the two. What goes in the heart ultimately comes out in actions. 

The Scriptures are crystal-clear on the issue of entertainment; there’s no debate.

Philippians 4:8 says to fix our thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, and to think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable and worthy of praise. When darkness entertains us, it also influences us.

The Desperate Need Today

The word “revival” is very popular right now, but why aren’t we seeing it in a fuller measure? In Duncan Campbell’s book “The Price and Power of Revival,” he made the following statement: 

“One of the main secrets of success in the early Church lay in the fact that the early believers believed in unction from on high and not entertainment from men. … How did the early Church get the people? By publicity projects … by posters, by parades, by pictures? No! The people were arrested and drawn together and brought into vital relationship with God, not by sounds from men, but by sounds from heaven. … Unction is the dire and desperate need of the ministry today.”

Kill Compromise Quickly 

In Old Testament Israel, thousands still sacrificed to God on the high places. “At least we’re sacrificing to God,” they thought. Whether for convenience or because of compromise, God’s people began to justify the use of pagan locations and altars to offer to God. God’s heart must have broken each time the Bible records: “But the high places were not removed.” Are there areas in our lives where we’re allowing compromise to seep in as Israel did? 

We Can Reverse the Trend

In the same way that physical cancer can be reversed when the fuel source is removed or the rogue cells killed, spiritual cancer can also be reversed if we remove sin and kill its source. 

What places of compromise do you need to repent of? What areas of ungodly influence do you need to let go of? We must get back to the prayer closet, back to the basics of prayer, fasting and humility. 

We are waiting on God, but could it be that He is waiting on us?

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Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at, and free downloads of his books are available at Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.

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