I’ve been thinking about preaching that connects with the congregation. Part of the issue is the complex consisting of application and relevance. But this is not the whole issue by any means. So here is a question: is it possible to be totally applicational in a message, and yet completely unengaging?
I believe it is possible. If there is no personal warmth between preacher and listener, and if there is no vertical warmth between the preacher and God, then a highly applicational message could easily become an instructional rant based on a text.
This isn’t something any of us should strive for. Problem is that if we think being relevant and applicational is the whole deal, then we can overlook the fact that communication is best offered in the context of interpersonal warmth. As preachers our listeners need us to have that reality in both dimensions!
A good friend of mine has a stock of great sayings, one of which goes, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So true in preaching. A chilling of the temperature in our personal walk with God will show in our communication with others. Even the most winsome of texts can become an opportunity to hammer on the duty theme again, for example.
Let’s leave it there, that almost qualifies as a short thought!