Ever so often, perhaps every generation, a new paradigm for preaching emerges — the new aim of homiletics, so to speak. More likely than not, this is grossly understated. One could probably make the case that this sort of shift is a phenomenon evidenced every few years, really.
In their course of study, ministerial students learn, debate, & ramble on about sterile terms like ‘exegetical’ interpretation & the dastardly ‘eisegetical’ interpretation, expository preaching & topical preaching, etc. No criticism here, folks… I’ve taken all of the responsible classes myself, & now I teach them to others.
In the pastorate, there is a real dilemma in keeping a properly measured balance between the philosophical & the pragmatic.
Let’s face it: Many folks nowadays just want to be told what to do… They long for a sort of dumbed-down utilitarianism. To be sure, not everyone in the pew wants this, but certainly many of them do. You’ve heard their questions; in fact, you’ve even asked some of them yourself. I know that I have.
There’s a tension in the pulpit. In proclaiming the Gospel, we must call unbelievers to repentance & faith, while also calling believers to righteousness & faithfulness.
Pastors have the hard task of lifting the name of & celebrating the presence of Christ, encouraging heavy & weary hearts, challenging disbelief, confronting unfaithfulness, & much more.
What’s a preacher to do? [Ironic, I know.]
Perhaps, our models should be broad but simple. For example: wrestling with broad but simple questions like What must we know? & What must we now do?.
Behavior not bound up in & grounded upon Truth isn’t redemptive. Truth which does not substantiate itself in behavior, likewise, isn’t redemptive.
So, it seems that our preaching must both share & invite, proclaim & call, declare & demand.
Within & throughout this simple, 2-fold structure, of course, we ought to weave story, humor, narrative, illustration, experience, perhaps even some sarcasm, satire, or self-deprecation.
But, if we aren’t helping people think & live biblically, are we actually proclaiming the Scriptures?
* I recorded these thoughts while driving down the road almost 13 months ago. That being said… (1) I was voicetexting on my phone’s notepad, so it was safe! Relatively-speaking. (2) Hopefully, this explains the scatteredness & disjointedness. (3) I then emailed the note to myself & lost it in my inbox, so this has been a long time coming.