Beyond Guilt – Part 3

So far we have looked at issues of stance and tone in this series.  It is easy to have a minimalist default approach of piling on the pressure and using guilt to twist arms.  The biblical preacher needs to get beyond that.

3. The Preacher’s Strategy.  Let’s face the real issue head on.  What is our strategy in preaching?  If the goal is life transformation, then what strategy makes sense?  It certainly can’t be a simplistic answer since the human is a complex creature.  But here are some pointers on strategy issues.

Transformation involves movement from a negative to a positive.  Preaching for that transformation cannot simply critique the negative.  We need to help people see what life would look like if the biblical truth were to take hold.  Simply making people feel bad is not a solution.

Often people simply cannot conceive of what a faith-filled Christ-like in-step-with-the-Spirit life would look like in terms of a specific issue.  In one sense then we have some role as life coaches.  But it is more than that.

Transformation involves motivation for applying the message of God’s Word.  Preaching for that transformation cannot simply inform, or even pressure, it needs to motivate.  We need to understand how people work at the deepest level.  If we think that information plus pressure will generate good things then we have been significantly led away from the teaching of the Bible by the thinking of this world.

What is the root issue Paul points to in Ephesians 4:17ff?  People act and behave a certain way because of their thinking – so we need to educate!  Hang on, yes we do, but he goes further, there’s a deeper issue…the root issue is the hardness of heart.  Somehow the heart influences even how the mind will process information.  Christian transformation is not really about well-informed minds and well-disciplined wills.  It is an issue of the heart, inside to out, a matter of response as opposed to responsibility.

Transformation involves response to more than a vision of better living.  It is not about realizing innate potential, but about responding from the core to a compelling love that alone can truly transform a life.

So our strategy includes presentation of application rather than just declaration of guilt.  Our strategy includes communicating with people as if they are heart-driven beings and not just informed decision makers.  But the ultimate issue has to be the One to whom people should respond, which I’ll leave until tomorrow’s post.

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1 Comment

Filed under Audience Analysis, Christianity, Homiletics, New Testament, Preacher's Personal Life, Preaching, Religion, Specific text, Stage 5 - Message Purpose, Stage 8 - Message Detail

One response to “Beyond Guilt – Part 3

  1. Peter, I really like where you are going with this.

    One of the problems with the guilt thing, with preaching that people are in a bad place and need to change is that causing people to flee doesn’t mean they will go in the right direction. We don’t want people just to leave where they are, we want them to arrive at a specific place. As such, we need to make that place really attractive (but truthfully–not promising things that aren’t really there!).

    Looking forward to the next part.

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