So to finish off Andy Stanley’s list of seven guidelines for preaching to the unchurched, here is number 7…
Guideline 7: Don’t go mystical . . . unless you want a new car.
I have resisted the urge to quote too much, so I’ve earned some quoting credit.
If you are serious about your weekend service serving as a bridge for those who are returning to faith or exploring faith for the first time, stay away from the mystical. Even if you are in a highly charismatic church, stay away from the mystical. You don’t live that way. Nonbelievers don’t live that way. So don’t preach that way. Mystical just puts distance between you and your audience.
Now, on the other hand, if you are into positioning yourself as “God’s man” or “God’s anointed mouthpiece” or other such nonsense, then mystical is the way to go. Mystical communicates that you have an inside track; you are closer to God than the people in the audience could ever hope to be. Mystical creates . . . mystery! And with mystery comes fear! And that puts you in the driver’s seat. Once you get your people thinking you are something special, they will treat you special. Throw in a little prosperity theology and in no time you will be driving in style, dressing in style, and the people close to you will never question your decisions. How could they? You are God’s man. It’ll be awesome.
Now, your spouse and kids will know you are a poser and a phony. But eventually your spouse will get so accustomed to the fortune and fame, he or she won’t say anything. Your kids, on the other hand, well, they’ll be a mess. But you’ll have the resources necessary to ensure they get the best treatment options available. Wear contacts. Avoid reading glasses. Get yourself an entourage, an Escalade, and some armor-bearers, and you will be good to go. Oh, one other thing. Stay away from the Gospels. Things didn’t go well for those guys. Stick with the Old Testament. The Gospels could be hazardous to your charade!
While many may not quite follow through to that extreme, there are many who offer a mystical charade as a means of multiplying the sense of authority in what they say. We need a radar for this kind of stuff in our own hearts and lives. Actually, we have a radar. He’s called the Holy Spirit. So while a false mystical approach can be so damaging, a humble walk with the One able to search us and know us is so important for communicators.