Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Monday, January 05, 2009

Evangelical Preaching?

I take great pride in preaching each Sunday. I spend a lot of time in preparation and study, including translating the text.

So, as I drove to my parents on Christmas Eve, I heard two Christmas sermons on the radio. I hesitate to call them ,,Christmas" or ,,sermons". The name of Jesus was used, but the content of the sermons (I seemed to think they were really pep talks) did not focus on: the gospel or the meaning of Jesus being born as our Savior. What has happened to the state of Christian preaching in America?

It used to be that Evangelical churches prided themselves in preaching about the pure gospel of Christ crucified. There are still some that take this preaching seriously. I heard a Baptist friend preach over the summer, and he did an good job of preaching the gospel. The Baptist church also seemed very committed to remaining faithful in really preaching the gospel. In this respect they were very evangelical and Lutheran.

However, what passes as Evangelical preaching in the 21st century leaves a lot to be desired. I perceive that part of this dilemma is based on the whole church growth methodology that is focused on mere statistics and numbers rather than faithful preaching of the gospel. Too many churches are obsessed with being a business and pursuing commerical avenues of success. It reminds me of the 16th century Catholic Church. In many ways the modern Evangelical Church is similar to 16th century Catholicism.

Evangelical preaching, true evangelical preaching that is concerned about Christ crucified and risen for us sinners is always going to be small potatoes compared to what we are shown on TV with a slick presentation and polished delivery. If the message isn't focused on Christ crucified, then it isn't evangelical. If the message isn't focused on the gospel, then it isn't preaching.

Preaching isn't easy. It takes a good deal of preparation. But the underlying foundation is not rocket science: it's proclaiming Christ crucified and what that means for us. There are so many ways to proclaim this. Lutherans are fond of the forensic method, namely, that justification is described in legal terms of guilt and forgiveness. Jack Preus III wrote a book several years back that looked at other ways to preach evangelically that did not rely solely on a forensic approach.

I view preaching as an art. True masters are rare, but I have read and heard many who are quite good. Unfortunately, modern Evangelical preachers rarely fall into those categories. Much of what I read and hear from them can best be described as children finger painting.

Honestly, we don't need all sorts of gimmicks, jokes, object lessons, etc. What we need to be doing is preaching the pure gospel. If you are consistent with this, over time you will become rather good at preaching Christ crucified.

Our market-engineered society wants fancy presentations. But one of the best preachers I have been blessed to hear and read is Dr. Norman Nagel. He read from his manuscript (this is very much contrary to what we were taught in preaching classes!), but His preaching dripped with the gospel. That's the kind of passion we need: gospel overflowing. Another wonderful preacher is Dr. Rossow. He is very polished, and is a master at using language and imagery to soak you with the gospel. Walter Keller is another great preacher who is a master of Pauline preaching. There are countless other examples.

Evangelical preachers need to get back to really preaching the pure gospel. Americans need to really, really hear the proclamation that Christ died for their sins.


Scott Diekmann said...

Amen and Amen!

layperson said...

The God of Pulpit
The Passover given to Israel was upgraded and given to all mankind becoming the communion of Christ with His church. His body becoming the unleavened bread and his blood which covers all those who will simply receive his gift which is the new covenant (covering). Exodus 12, Mark 14
God’s covering is designed to prepare his people for action. The action defined and lived out in daily life is God’s love flowing from lives that listen and look for ways to participate in the divine nature (love). It’s a walk of faith for imperfect people whose hearts are changed and have desire to live their new life from the inside out. Romans: 12 1-2 they having received His covering now submit their lives to the author of life and love. In other words they seek to care about the things that matter most. This is their spiritual worship to care the way Jesus cares and to follow His example and daily leading. They want to care thus having all the dullness of superficial life removed to enjoy true fellowship, love, hope, and great joy. The food and drink provided in the new upgraded covenant is available daily to any who would desire to come and partake.
So why this blog is is called the “God of Pulpit”? Because preaching like any ministry should be the result of ministers living life from the inside out. It’s the word of god mixed with the life of the preacher.
If we think sermons will change the world without all of this we deceive ourselves. Pulpits should be a place to let real inner life surface in humility, love, and JOY. Its part of the threads of life God is weaving into our lives and an opportunity to get what is on the inside out to people who need to eat to grow strong and healthy. When people hear and see the message (the preacher) they should line up.
God of pulpit is a name I gave ego eccentrics who truly think their mission is life is to share their golden tongue. They think that somehow having their hearts set upon the Christ doesn’t matter as much as using their gift of monologue. God of pulpit is another form of worldly lust that seeks to exalt itself over its maker. The fallen golden tongues are all around us but thankfully many have seen the error of their ways and have chosen to take back the joy of their salvation and love people. Many preach again but what a difference in the message!
So preachers before you approach that pulpit remember to care about what the people need to see in your life more than in your words. Follow love under the covering of the Savior and give the people real meat.