the weblog of Alan Knox

Preach? Who? Me?

Posted by on Jul 14, 2007 in elders, service | 20 comments

This morning, thanks to Theron at “Sharing in the Life“, I read a great quote by Roland Allen in Theron’s post called “Quote of the Day“. In The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, Allen writes:

What Christ asks of His disciples is not so much exposition of doctrine about Him as witness to His power. Now witness to His power can be given by the most illiterate if he has had experience of it. It does not require long training for a man to say: ‘Whereas I was blind now I see’…

I remember a missionary in India telling me that most of the converts in his district were brought in by extremely illiterate men. He said: ‘The villagers look at them and say, “We know what you were, we can see what you are; what has made the difference?” These men cannot preach sermons,’ he said, ‘but they know enough to answer, “Christ”, and the result is men are converted to Christ.’

Could it be that we have changed the meaning of the word “preach” to such an extent that it has now become the responsibility of educated men instead of transformed men? Could it be that when Paul told Timothy to “proclaim the word” he did not mean to study commentaries in order to present a 30-45 minute homily, but that through his life and his words he should proclaim Christ as his Lord? Could it be that the “illiterate men” in Roland Allen’s story know what it means to “proclaim Christ” and have taken responsibility for it, while we have relegated it to a professional service that is no longer the responsibility of every believer?


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  1. 7-14-2007

    As long as it still has three points 🙂

  2. 7-15-2007

    I think we have drifted very far from what was supposed to be simplicity in Christ. I was reading the gospels the other day and noticing Jesus didn’t teach much about structure and leadership. Other than He is the Head and we are the Body.(The mouth is part of the head) He did teach quite often to beware of those who would mislead you.(Leven of the Pharisees) But then in Revelation we see him already rebuking the churches for what they had become.

    I think everyone can be taught personally by Christ, if they would just ask Him. If we are truly born again we have the Spirit of Truth within us. When we neglect this wonderful gift offered to us all its like choosing to go to pre-school and be taught by children when we have Einstein living with us. It doesn’t make sense. But I think the majority of Christians don’t realize they have this power. If a Christian comes to me for advice I will always say “ask God.” I have three kids and I wouldn’t require one of my daughters to have to ask my son about something I said or required. I would expect my daughters to come strait to me first. I am their dad just as much as I am my sons dad. Second hand info. is always scrambled.(Ever play the game telephone?) The idea of a mediator other than Christ scares me. I think the first example we see of this is the serpent telling Eve, “This is what God really meant when he said that.”(Paraphrasing) I think anyone in a position of teaching, leading, etc. should first point to Dad (God) and say, “ask Him yourself, He’s right there, He’ll explain it to you.” And then, “Patience.”

  3. 7-15-2007

    This is a topic that I have been interested in for some time now.

    Acts 4:13-“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

    Uneducated and untrained men who had simply been with Jesus.

    I like what Jeff said about Jesus already rebuking the churches for what they had become in Revelation.


  4. 7-15-2007

    Good comments everyone. It does seem to me that “being with Jesus” is the requirement for “proclaiming Christ”. Which means that much of what we call “preaching” today may have little to do with “proclaiming Christ”.


  5. 7-15-2007


    Great post.

    I think it might be good to consider that the scriptures seems to indicate that preaching/proclaiming is proclamation of the gospel. It also seems to emphasis that this proclamation was to the unbelievers and not so much the church. Today we have preachers who perform their sermons for the church and really don’t proclaim the gospel to the world, except for those few unbelievers who have excepted an invite to “go to church”. Searching scripture I can only see in Acts 20:7 kjv where Paul ever preached to the church. The problem with this is the greek word translated preach is dialegoma which we get our word dialogue. The word carries the connotation of reason, dialogue, debate. Have you ever dialogue with a preacher on Sunday morning?
    I think we would do well to consider using the word proclaim over preach. Not so much baggage.
    note: I am not saying the gospel should never be proclaimed to the church. We must always remember what Christ has done.

  6. 7-15-2007

    Thanks for the great post. There is power in a testimony of what Jesus has done.

    Rev 12:11

  7. 7-15-2007

    I wonder if we haven’t misunderstood Matt 28:19.
    Through a heirarchal relationship we “disciple the nations” creating a dependence on men rather than Christ.

    Discipleship guarantees that once error is introduced into “Biblical” indoctrination it will grow at an exponential rate.

    Christ himself said if I stay here and “disciple” you you will not be able to bear it. The Holy Spirit makes disciples and we facilitate (proclaim) the Word with thoes who have a born again foundation.

  8. 7-15-2007

    Could it be that we have changed the meaning of the word “preach” to such an extent that it has now become the responsibility of educated men instead of transformed men?

    The above statement shows how far we have moved away from the Biblical norm. What happened to transformed men/women turning the world upside down? We long not for more education, but for power in ministry and witness, “…you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

  9. 7-16-2007

    Good comments again. Why do you (plural) think the homily is given precedence over testimony today?


  10. 7-16-2007


    Frank Viola researched the origins of the church system of today and detailed it in his book, “Pagan Christianity.” An interesting read.

    As for me personally, I would say primarily tradition and then ignorance, money, power, and the fact that there is an evil force working against Christianity. An evil that has effectively convinced and deceived believers, and would be believers, that quarantining themselves in their own facilities, listening to one man speak, is some how spreading true Christianity.

  11. 7-16-2007


    Interesting topic. Dan and I were discussing this very subject on our way home Saturday night. We had concluded that preaching is not usually what takes place on Sunday mornings… it is definitely something we all need to consider.


  12. 7-16-2007


    You said: Frank Viola researched the origins of the church system of today and detailed it in his book, “Pagan Christianity.” An interesting read.

    I was at Bellevue Baptist, Memphis, TN 5 or 6 years ago on a Wednesday night with a friend and his family. We had dinner at the Church and as I am a former Pentecostal pastor ( I had left the ministry about 10 years earlier) I was trying to answer his question about the difference between Pentecostalism and Baptist.

    The pastor spoke about what I understood as a “Church growth” message straight out of Fuller Theological Seminary, the kind of thought I did not agree with. ie. numerical growth equal God’s blessing.

    Mid sermon he mentioned that there had been over 800 water baptisms that year and with a membership of 30,000 “surely we can do better than that”

    A lone woman in the santuary, not paying attention to his train of thought, possibly not able to follow at that, began clapping for joy at the thought of 800 people being baptized.

    The pastor is the most gentle pastor you could ever expect to fill a pulpit but he immediately showed her his palms in a gesture to stop clapping and listen to his point.

    I was embarrassed for the lady who I’m sure went to bed that evening feeling shame at her inability to pay attention

    When we left the service I explained to my friend that the pastor “goofed” tonight and he witnessed a difference between a Pentecostal and Baptist serevice. In a Pentecostal that lady would not have been singled out and shamed but the pastor would probally have encouraged everyone else to join her in a praise offering to the Lord. She would have went home feeling good that she led the congregation in praise.

    I am haunted by that lone clapping and sudden aborted praise by a pastor more interested in making his point.

    This was the flip side to Peter going to Cornelius’ house and his short ten verse sermon interrupted by (I’m sure a woman) speaking in tongues and the resulting household following her lead.

    Charles Page

  13. 7-16-2007

    Charles Page,

    Unfortunately, and quite sadly, I have much experience in a Pentecostal church in which the preacher often did shame people from the pulpit for responding in a way different than what he was going for.

    One specific time I recall was when people started to gather around a gentleman to lay hands on him, and the preacher screamed, “Don’t touch him! I will be the one to lay hands on him for his healing.”

    No, Pentecostals have no more monopoly on the right treatment of people than Baptists do.

  14. 7-16-2007

    Mr. Page,

    You addressed your post to me and I’m not sure why. Was the author, Mr. Viola, also the baptist pastor you refer to? His book didn’t condone, nor set apart to condemn, any single denomination that I can recall. Please elaborate as I am confused as to the point you were making. Sorry.

  15. 7-16-2007


    I read

    (Viola’s interview about his book.)

    The subject about today’s preaching compared to what preaching was in the NT struck me as to this experience I had 5 or 6 years ago in a Baptist Church.

    I was not singling out a single denomination intentionally but that the problem of todays preaching reaches to the biggest churches and best preachers we have in America.

    You said: “…quarantining themselves in their own facilities, listening to one man speak, is some how spreading true Christianity.”

    steve: All churches have their abused pulpit experiences and I am sure that Pentecostals are guilty as well. My post was not to compare Pentecostals to Baptist but that the pulpit needs to be sensitive to the move of the Spirit regardless of the denomination.

    Seems I have touched some kind of sensitive area here.

  16. 7-16-2007


    I’ve read Pagan Christianity. It was very interesting. I found Viola’s style a little vitriolic, and his historical references a little one sided, but I learned a lot from the book. From what I understand, Viola is re-releasing Pagan Christianity with George Barna. I’m interested to see what Barna brings to this book, given his background in research.


    You mentioned “the pulpit”. What do you mean by the phrase “the pulpit”?


    I think almost all Christian traditions have accepted the modern definition of “preaching” as presenting a homily, expounding on Scripture, etc. The purpose of this post is not to get side-tracked by who’s doing what, but asking if we need to return to a simple defition of preaching as “proclaiming Christ”.


  17. 7-16-2007


    ha! pulpit – a wooden/glass furniture designed to hold a Bible and notes (if liberal) and hide a ministers’ shaking knees “morphed” into human language for the man of God who preaches the Word.

    Actually the speaker and the hearer must have the Spirit.

  18. 5-31-2011

    If we’ve relegated it to professional people, I missed the memo. Love the responsibility of being a daughter and bringing the Kingdom onto earth. Wear the crown!

  19. 7-4-2011

    Scripture does say in 1 Tim 3:6 that an overseer isn’t to be a recent convert. It seems the idea is for preachers today to jump right in and few know how to manage people. Our seminaries pump out professional preachers, not pastors.

  20. 3-7-2012

    Wonderful comments! If anyone here has a Face Book account, please friend me, thanks.
    Tony Roland