Holiday Post 2: Preaching Inside the Fence

Pulling up some posts from January 2008 since I am on holiday with my family this week . . .

Previously I suggested the image of preparing and preaching within a low fence (click here to see part 1). I’d like to suggest a reason for doing so that may not be immediately obvious. Very simply, you will enjoy the preaching process more. Let me give an example:

Almost four years ago the church I was involved in was working it’s way through Luke. I had Easter Sunday morning. It was tempting to read Luke, but essentially preach Paul. You know how it is, so simple to revert to the terminology, ideas and focus of a passage like 1st Corinthians 15. I resisted the temptation and erected a low fence. I studied within Luke’s writings. I saturated my preparation with Luke and worked to prepare a deliberately Lukan message. I didn’t want to just preach the resurrection, I wanted to preach Luke’s account of the empty tomb and risen Christ. I tried to grasp the significance and focus of the carefully written account in his gospel. I tried to use Luke’s terminology and present his concept of salvation. I wanted to preach in Luke’s language rather than Paul’s or John’s.

The message went well as far as I could tell. One discerning listener commented on the deliberate Luke language. Probably everyone else missed it. That didn’t matter. The big idea was as good as I could get from the text, the relevance was as deliberate and concrete as possible, the big things were what mattered. But for me, as the preacher, the attention to fine detail like choice of terminology made the study both exacting and rewarding. I felt like I’d tasted something of Luke’s great gospel in a way that I could so easily have bypassed.

I got a taste for preaching with a fence that day, and I’ve continued to do so whenever possible. I’d encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. Take the opportunity to push yourself deeper in whatever book you are preaching. It’s easy to revert to default thoughts from elsewhere, but you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t!

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