Friday, April 24, 2009

The Fear of Preaching Dangerously

Collapse shmollapse. :-)

Last year I nodded toward the preaching coming out of LifeChurch as a sign that the tide may be turning. LifeChurch is in many ways the epicenter of the attractional multi-site church movement, and LifeChurch's pastor Craig Groeschel has been preaching some great messages in some great series.

Last week at the Catalyst West Conference (which gets credit for inviting Francis Chan back to speak year after year), Groeschel pushed the calling of people into "Level 3" discipleship, where life is sacrificed for the good of the gospel. And then there's this post, which is just refreshing and awesome and prophetic:
Pastor, you are called to preach a dangerous message.

(Notice I didn’t say an “edgy” message. There is a big difference between dangerous and edgy.)

Preaching the Gospel of Christ is offensive to men. If you’re being criticized for your sex talks and creative marketing and never for preaching Christ, something might be wrong with your preaching.

Preaching God’s standards will make some people mad. If your sermons always make people feel better about themselves and you never confront their sin, they won’t likely see their need for a Savior.

Preaching about the miraculous power of God stirs people up. If your typical message is five steps to a better life, you may be overlooking the one step of truly taking God at His word.

I pray our messages become more Spirit-filled, Scripture-packed, and God-annointed!

A few of the comments are revealing.

When a guy like me, in my context, says things like this, they tend to get received by two kinds of people: pastors who agree with me and laypeople who agree with me but are either in a) churches where stuff like this isn't a problem, or b) churches where stuff like this is a problem but where there is no means of addressing the problems fruitfully. In that sense, blogs and voices like mine have limited influence on the people who most need to hear the sorts of things we're saying. The recipients of our criticism are closed to criticism from the outside.

But Francis Chan and Matt Chandler at Catalyst, Tim Keller at Exponential, Mark Driscoll in loving and influential brotherhood with pastoral tribes he may not typically run in, and especially guys like Craig Groeschel, an undisputed leader and highly respected voice, saying things like this to his tribe is a very, very good thing. (For the same reason the Reformed gurus at Gospel Coalition last week stressing that the doctrines of grace are no substitute for enjoying grace and giving grace to others to a bunch of Calvinists was very important.)

May Craig's influence continue to spread prophetically among his brothers and sisters, and may their tribe increase.

(Btw, for those no doubt wondering: No, I'm still not a fan of the video church thing, but that would be a really stupid nit to pick in a post like this.)

1 comment:

Milton Stanley said...

You're right that blogs and voices like your have limited influence, but it is influence still. One of the biggest shifts in my own theory of preaching is the need for Christ-centered preaching (call it cross-centered or gospel-centered if you'd like). That shift in my own preaching, from a moralistic, work-harder approach to a gospel-driven approach, has come primarily through online sources such as Tim Keller's work, TG-DC, Shizuka Blog, and In the Clearing (to name some of the most prominent sources). Building discipleship through blogging is and should be secondary to building discipleship in congregations, but there can be a very good cross-influence, if you will.