5. Be aware of the specific people to whom you preach. Just because a church is in a neighbourhood, this doesn’t mean the people in the church are typical of the people in the neighbourhood.
6. Be aware of the people whom the church is trying to reach. Here’s where number 5 becomes tricky. You may be preaching to one group of people but trying to reach a quite different group of people. Application is about targetted preaching – aiming vaguely is never wise when trying to hit a target. So do you preach to those who are present, or to those you’d like them to feel comfortable bringing? Both is a good idea. Neither seems ludicrous.
7. Be applicationally authentic. While it is easy to throw stones at post-modernity with all its relativizing of truth and denial of absolutes, let’s not miss the underarm throw that sits up invitingly before us as if to taunt us. This culture craves authenticity. It doesn’t get excited by authority or formalized religion or establishment stuff. But it does crave authenticity. Where else but in the community of God’s saved people can people go to find authenticity? But will they find it with us? Honesty, vulnerability, transparency, authenticity. We need to find a voice that is personally real, rather than offering application at arms length and so coming across as tipsters from a bygone era.
8. Be courageously bold. Paul told the Ephesian elders how he did not hesitate to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Do we? Do we apply the truth of God’s Word to the quirks and distinctive corporate personality of a local church? This takes boldness. You’ll get praise for critiquing the sins of others, but don’t go touching local sin if you want an easy life! At the same time our culture needs a sensitive, yet bold, propheticc voice to speak out. This is where preaching from personal proof texts doesn’t look good. But preaching through books or sections can allow a greater freedom since the agenda is coming from the text.