I just started Apologetic Preaching (Proclaiming Christ to a Postmodern World) by Craig Loscalzo (do you pronounce that the way it looks – anyone know?) In the first chapter Loscalzo enters the arena of defining and engaging with the broad issues of postmodernity. In the process he writes of the fear of many contemporary preachers.
This fear comes from seeing other churches successfully growing, while seeing apathy, lethargy, and empty pews up close. It is a fear of pushing too hard or demanding too much. It is a fear of being labeled as narrow-minded by colleagues, by the media, by academics they have studied under, or by intellectuals in their church. Their ecclesiastical vocabulary, in its progressive state, is now purged of terms like sin, judgment, immoral, evil, righteousness, faith and commitment. They fear offending sensibilities or being stereotyped on either the religious right or left. He writes, “we have become so hypercautious that our sermons at best offend no one and at worst merely bore.” (p12) What’s more, a fear of being irrelevant leads to nothing more than mundane chatter.
Obviously he’s writing about other preachers and not us, obviously. Of course. Clearly. Without any doubt. But rather than get defensive, why not ask God to show us if any fear has crept into our preaching ministry?