I usually preach two or three times every six weeks to two months. Friday, when I read these words on Dave Black’s blog (Friday, May 2, 5:02 pm), I couldn’t say “Amen” enough! These words express exactly what I feel about preaching:
This Sunday I’ve been asked to “preach” at a couple of churches in North Carolina. I have almost come to loath that word. Just as people can watch spellbound a circus performer tumbling through the air in a tight rubber costume, so they can listen to a “preacher” who uses the Bible to draw attention to himself. Especially if his sermon is “well-crafted.” I have known a good many preachers who in many ways seemed quite frivolous in their exaggerated and confused enthusiasms. The problem is that a sensational preacher stimulates only the senses and leaves the spirit untouched. I usually pray before I speak, “God, you speak and help me get out of the way.” I really mean it. I don’t feel I have anything unique to say. Usually I just verbalize what people already know in their heart to be true. I think it’s all very unsensational, actually. Yes, I’m very glad to “preach” in churches week after week. But I really just talk about what the text is saying — a text that transcends time and place and unifies us with the one God who is Father of all believers in all places and all times.
Like Dave says, most people know what Scripture says, and yet preachers usually spend an inordinate amount of time trying to explain it – sometimes in flowery speech and dramatic fashion. The problem is usually not understanding or even applying… the problem is usually obeying God. And, that’s not something that I – or any other preacher – can affect. I can speak, but I have to trust the Spirit to teach, apply, convict, strengthen, and guide in obedience. That takes alot of faith.
It would be much easier to play with people’s emotions and guilt them into doing something they don’t really want to do. It would be easier… but not spiritually edifying. It would be easier… but it would show more faith in my own abilities than in God. It would be easier… but its not my responsibility. It would be easier… but it would also be disobedience on my part. My responsibility is teaching… the results are completely up to God.
So…. to all the teachers and preachers out there… do you trust him to teach and convict and guide his own children toward obedience and maturity?