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Placebo Preaching Is What Many Pastors Do

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Placebo Pills: Definition

A placebo is a pill that doctors prescribe to patients that contains no medication at all. However, the patients don't know that. They think they are getting real medicine in the pill.

Often placebo pills are given to patients because of a medical study that is going on. This writer has been the subject of many medical studies. She didn't know if she was taking a real pill with medicine in it or if the pill was actually a placebo.

The word "placebo" comes from a Latin term meaning "to please." That's exactly what doctors do. They give their patients something that will please them while at the same time hoping the placebo would actually result in healing because the patients think they are healed. For instance, hypochondriacs want the doctor to prescribe something for them to take. Sometimes doctors prescribe a placebo "to please" them.

In their minds, patients might think that it is a real medication with the right ingredients to heal them. In a lot of cases, the fake treatment seems to work merely because the patient believes it is working.

Over 50 percent of doctors admit they have prescribed placebo pills, and they agree there is nothing wrong with the practice. The American Medical Association says there is nothing wrong with physicians using that approach.

Placebo Preaching: Definition

You might be wondering what does a placebo pill have to do with preaching. Well, placebo pills and placebo preaching are very much alike. Placebo pills have no medicine to heal or to cure. Placebo preaching has no anointing and no substance. Yet, people are pleased because they hear what they like instead of what will cause them to grow.

Placebo treatment that the doctor gives is nothing of substance, but in the mind of the patient, it is real. The doctor must convince the patient that the placebo pill will make him well. In the same manner, the pastor tries to convince the parishioner that his placebo preaching is helpful when it is not.

Some people go to church to hear a word from God. Unfortunately, they don't always get that. They get a placebo that contains sugar-coated information that lacks inspiration and aspiration. In fact, another name for a placebo is a "sugar pill."

Churchgoers Satisfied with Placebo Preaching

Paul tells ministers in 2 Tim.4:2-4:

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

People with itching ears are satisfied with placebo preaching. They don’t want sound doctrine because it will provoke them into accountability. They want to hear something that will please them instead of something that will change them. Real preaching instead of placebo preaching causes people to grow spiritually and bear fruit.

Just as a placebo pill will not help someone having a heart attack, placebo preaching will not help someone with a hardened heart.

Pastors, preachers, ministers, and other people of the clergy should preach the gospel and stop passing out bottles of placebo pills and sending people home to return the next Sunday to get another supply.

Just as people can be physically sick, they can also be spiritually sick. Placebo preaching can please people with itching ears temporarily, but it does nothing for their heart and soul.


Placebo preaching is giving people what they want instead of what they need. For instance, some people don’t what to hear about forgiveness, repentance, and loving their neighbors as themselves. Instead, they want to continue living in sin because it is comfortable for them.

Therefore, they settle for the placebo pills they are given. They are pleased just to get something to soothe their itching ears. Actually, they should want something that will be good for their heart that is located about 18 inches away from their ears.

Pastors Should Be Careful

Pastors should be careful with their placebo preaching because it could lead to placebo praying, placebo praise, and placebo worship. If congregants don't get sufficient biblical teaching and sound doctrine, then they will accept anything to soothe them for a while, but it will not strengthen them.

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If preachers continue to pass out placebo pills, their parishioners will not be transformed by the renewing of their minds, and they certainly won't grow. They will sit in those pews year after year not learning God's laws for righteous living. Therefore, they will not follow the examples of Christ.

God Is Not the Giver of Placebos

God is real, and He is powerful. He does not have to dispense placebo pills. Everything God said in His word is the real thing. All of His promises are "Yea" and "Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The pastor gives a sugar-coated religion by telling the people what they want to hear instead of what they need to know. The people believe the pastor and go on their merry way believing that whatever is said in the church because they don't know they have been given a dose of placebo pills.


Jack Jenn from Living in hope on planet earth. on August 21, 2020:

Hi Margaret,

I will echo Marcelo's words - 'A true yet sad observation'.

So many in this day and age don't want the truth, it's too hard because the truth is convicting.

"Speak to me comfortable words" is the cry today.

Again, I enjoyed your article Margaret,

Best regards,


Marcelo Carcach from Westminster, MD on August 20, 2020:

A true yet sad observation

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 20, 2020:

Thanks, Tim, for reading my article and for your comments which are always good.


Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on August 20, 2020:

All I can say, Margaret: Amen. A good leader of the flock should be able to identify what spiritual medicines )Scriptures, devotions, sermons, and counsel) which can further the growth of a person in their walk with Christ. A pastor, or leader in a church, who avoids these responsibilities should be held accountable. Thank you for a great article.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 20, 2020:

Thanks, Cheryl. You are rubbing off on me. (LOL)

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 20, 2020:

You are preaching Margaret. This came straight from the Holy Spirit.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 20, 2020:

Thanks, Leslie, for commenting on my article. That topic had been on my mind for a while. I was hoping readers would understand the informaton. I checked out your profile and I am now following you.

Leslie A. Shields from Georgia on August 20, 2020:

I love it!

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