September 17, 2009

Myths about preaching

I found this article recently and found it pretty insightful. It talks about the 3 myths of preaching. I'm no preacher, but I still found it interesting to think about.

1) If You Preach a Good Sermon the Church Will Grow

I definitely agree with this one because our church has grown significantly over the past 2-3 years and I haven't noticed anything different in the sermons. If anything I've noticed the sermons have been getting worse; which was part of the reason why this past summer my wife and I decided to go and try some other church, although in the end we went back to the original one. Our beef was that some of our preachers don't necessarily use the bible it its correct context, but rather choosing to cherry pick verses in order to make point stand out. Which is bad, of course, but not bad enough to make us leave and start an entirely new community, etc.

2) Who You Preach To is Who You Will Reach

This one I wholeheartedly agree on. When I was younger I used to invite my friends to church because I knew they were talking about certain topics that might interest a non-believer, or maybe it was a message I thought my friend needed to hear. 9 times out of 10 they were offended and never came back. A great example of this is inviting your atheist friend when you know an apologist was going to speak. That's pretty much the LAST way you want your friend to learn about Christianity.

3) The Goal of Preaching is to Make the Bible Relevant

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday about favorite movies, and he said he like Casablanca the best. I couldn't understand because I've seen it a couple of times and I've never enjoyed it. I asked him to explain himself, and he said it was because every line in the movie was still relevant today as much as it was 40 years ago. And the other thing was even though he'd seen the movie 20 times, every time he saw it, he would discover something new.

I think that's the perfect way to describe the bible. Every scripture and every verse is relevant even centuries after it was written. Everything that Jesus spoke about and taught still applies today. And every time you read the bible, there's something new to be learned.

So in that sense I understand what the guy is saying here. You don't need to make the bible relevant because it already is relevant.

Perhaps what I find most frustrating about preaching today is that the preacher is too afraid to step on anyone's toes. They're afraid to offer the extremes, even if it is the truth. When the bible says we should sell everything and follow Jesus, the preacher simply turns it aside as metaphor and a "worldly goods / materialism" sermon follows. But is that really what Jesus is saying?

The simple truth is difficult to preach because often you're afraid to offend, or you don't want to look like a hypocrite, or perhaps you're simply not ready to face that truth yourself so how can you ask your congregation to do the same.

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