Monday, March 3, 2008

Preaching, Not Peddling

Here's the tail end of Abraham Piper's notes on Matt Chandler's Resurgence session "Preaching the Gospel in the Center of the Evangelical World"
Great stuff about faithfulness, focus, diligence, method, and worship in pastoring. The "discouraging encouragement" is especially encouraging. (Bold is mine.)
How do we preach and teach into the complexity of a growing secularism and a stubborn brittle fundamentalism?

Chandler mentioned 5 thoughts on this "from his deep well of personal bias."

1. Put to rest thoughts of bigness. Bigness attacks the rudiments of real deep change. If you aspire to bigness for bigness' sake, you're a peddler of God's word. It's not about being on the stage. If you're goal is to grow a crowd, you will sell out. Growth can be a whore. Preach faithfully and let God grow the church if he wants to.

2. Preaching is not just explaining the text. You must explain the text, but that's not enough. We must also reveal Christ in the text. Pay attention to the deity of Jesus.

3. Continue to preach the truth of the gospel boldly with less combative language. How you wear your counter-cultural-ness matters. Coming across as arrogant and smug is not a win for us. Paul respects others spiritual journey. He begs people to believe. Begging is not confrontational. An effect of evangelical baggage is that the second you go combative, you will be labeled a fundamentalist, and people have very often already made up their minds about fundamentalists. And what they've made up their mind to do is ignore them.

4. Trust not only in the integrity of the Scriptures but also their sufficiency. If you believe that the Bible is sufficient, you will not need to be concerned about making it relevant. Ignoring that the Bible is sufficient turns it into an ethical call to just be nicer to people.

The gospel is not that hurt goes away, but that Jesus is sufficient regardless of the hurt. If your people are in pain, what will they have to rely on if you have not already been giving them Jesus every weekend.

5. Preach and teach a biblical ecclesiology. Our people need to not just know but observe what Christ has commanded, so there needs to be accountability.

Conclusion: An Encouragingly Discouraging Note

Chandler wondered whether many pastors nowadays have the call of Isaiah to preach to a people that will not see or hear.

Discouraging, perhaps, but it in a way it is encouraging, because it means that if nothing seems to be happening in your ministry, it may not be your fault. All we must do is play our part well. Be faithful. Fearlessly proclaim the gospel.

Be aware of Christ's presence. Party with the prodigal. Entreat the older brother.

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