J. Ellsworth Kalas gives some advice to pastors regarding congregations and learning. Basically he says that just because something isn’t commonly known in the culture (Like “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” from “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”) doesn’t mean we simply skip those things. Instead, he says it is an opportunity to teach. In regard to quotes from authors the congregation wouldn’t know he writes:
My second answer is a quite Wesleyan one. If I were in an abrupt mood which I try to avoid I might answer, “If they don’t know the name, it’s time they learned.” To make the point more kindly, part of our job as preachers is to broaden and deepen human minds. If we believe that we should love the Lord our God with all our minds, we should do everything we can to make our minds as good and large as possible. We’re often told that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s also wicked to waste it. One of Satan’s favorite tools is to fill the mind with so much garbage that anything sane, thoughtful, beautiful and redemptive is crowded out. In our contemporary culture, Satan has developed this practice to a corrupt art.
There is a lot of garbage going into our minds today. We have access to more information than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that we focus on the beautiful and redemptive. Perhaps it is time to exercise our minds by working out with classics of literature (including spiritual classics) and not shy away from things just because it means we will have to teach.