Donald Sunukjian’s short definition of preaching is “Listen to what is God saying . . . to us?” Simple, maybe overly so, but helpful nonetheless. Preaching is something about God speaking through His Word to us now. But somehow it is easy to slip into some roles that really aren’t preaching. Preacher, you are not supposed to be:
1. Advice Dispenser – You may think people have a high view of your wisdom, or your office, but don’t descend into constantly offering your advice. People may pay big money to go hear Self-Help Gurus, but they are almost certainly not coming to your church primarily because of your advice. Preach the Word.
2. Public Entertainer – Of course you shouldn’t be drab and dull, the Bible is exciting and energising and it is good news. This is precisely the point. Don’t feel you need to “make it interesting” and get caught up in the excitement of making people happy and descend into the role of public entertainer. Preach the Word.
3. Time Filler – Sometimes church can feel like a routine that must needs be fulfilled week after week. And sometimes it does seem that you could waffle and say nothing much between end of sung worship and closing hymn (and still get affirming handshakes afterwards). Don’t descend into filling time. Unique opportunity. Preach the Word.
4. Worship Balancer – You may never have thought of this, and I don’t want to give ideas, but some seem to see it as their job to bring balance. After all the love and tenderness of the singing (especially some strains of modern worship), don’t descend into a balancing act of bringing the punch, the guilt, the stress, the duty. Whiplash. Preach the Word.
5. Life Coach – Speaking of self-help gurus, we have a massive arsenal of feel good stories to use in the anthology of self-help called the Bible. Oh wait, don’t do that. Shifting to a human-centred handling of the Bible guts it of its power and point. Don’t descend into some sort of life coaching role. Better spouse. Better parent. Better bill-payer. Stop. Preach the Word.
We’ll finish the list tomorrow, but feel free to add your own…