Our task as preachers is not only to explain, but also to apply the Word. How can we improve as “applicational” preachers? Let me throw some thoughts your way over the next days.
1. Be responsive to the Word. This means that as you read it, and as you study it, you respond to it. Rightly handling the Word involves work. Some of us are diligent in our exegetical processes, but light when it comes to personal response. Others are quick to respond, but weak on understanding it first.
2. Be convinced by the Word. We live in an age that is increasingly unconvinced by “well, the Bible says so!” Ok, I’ve understated it. Almost nobody is convinced there is a link between Bible and ultimate truth. So we must be increasingly convinced. This isn’t just about accurate handling of the text, with well-infomed awareness of historical, archeological and cultural backgrounds. It is also about living a life marked and shaped by the Word. It isn’t just explanation that must convince us, also lived application.
3. Be aware of the world. We don’t need to feast on sin to know how it tastes. But we can’t hide in religious ghettos and simply throw stones at the world around. Loving people means knowing people. It means finding out what makes them tick. Do we understand the shifts in thinking and communication between modern and post-modern worldviews? Do we know the difference between the modern Boomers, the hinge generation – Gen-X (who were raised modern but live in post-modern world), and the truly post-modern Millennials? Do we think through the shifts in communication, how in an electronic and virtual reality world there is a shift away from printed page communication, almost back toward an oral world, only now with overwhelming noise hitting both eye and ear?
4. Be in touch with your local context. Churches aren’t simply islands in the large ocean of contemporary culture. They sit in local contexts. Some urban, others suburban, still others very rural. These are all different. Local contexts are regional, with all the prejudices and blind spots that come within a region. People in an area tend to have similarities, perhaps in education, perhaps in outlook. Don’t go preaching urban sophisticated application in depressed rural regions.