Here’s another resolution to throw into the mix as we head into another year. How about making a prayerful determination to preach Christ, rather than the tempting alternatives?
Here are some tempting alternatives that are worth dumping in favour of Christ:
1. Don’t preach issues – It is tempting to be contemporary and to buy into the idea that what people really value above all else is contemporary relevance. Of course the Bible is relevant and Christ is relevant, but that doesn’t mean your preaching should be salted with relevance like meat in a medieval barrel. Some preachers are so concerned about being up-to-date that they lose sight of what they have to offer those sitting before them. Relevance is important, but it is not the primary and central goal in preaching.
2. Don’t preach tips – Of course God’s way is the best way and lives gripped by the Gospel tend to work a whole lot better than lives lived according to the values of the world. And yes, the Bible does include a lot of insight into living life, both legitimate and moralized. But our job is not to be the weekly top tip provider for a people totally absorbed with successful living. There should be a huge difference between our preaching and the self-help guru folks may pay a fortune to hear on Friday night. The gospel will transform lives, but we are not called to be known as life coaches.
3. Don’t preach pressure – With all the best intentions we can easily undermine the work of the Gospel in the lives of those we preach to each week. That is, we want them to be thriving spiritually and in life. We know the damage sin can do. So we will always be tempted to twist arms and pressure people to conform to an outward Christianity. It makes church life easier if all messes are hidden and people act appropriately. But pressure preaching assumes that listeners can fix themselves and that we can achieve God’s goals without any meaningful involvement from Him. There will be moments where we seek to appropriately apply the pressure of God’s Word, but that is not what defines us as true Christian preachers.
4. Don’t preach yourself – Over the years our own flesh has this amazing ability to get used to being the centre of attention. If you are naive enough to believe the polite comments you receive after preaching are objective evaluations of your ministry significance, then you can easily start to buy into your own hype. Please don’t.
5. Do preach Christ – The Gospel is not a self-starting life-change program, it is good news that involves us introducing listeners to God in Christ. Don’t preach self-help programs, or church programs, or Christian morality, or even Christianity . . . preach Christ. Make 2015 a year marked by a weekly introduction to a heart-capturing Saviour!
4 thoughts on “Resolved: Preach Christ”
I appreciate the sentiment and heart behind this post, but gotta ask: if we imitate Christ’s preaching, won’t we be preaching about issues and tips? I understand the need for evangelistic preaching ) which we clearly see in the Bible, but other preaching for discipleship and spiritual growth can be on topics and tips. Or do you consider “preaching” to be a word relegated solely to evangelistic effort?
Thanks Chris. I agree that good preaching will be both relevant and practical. What I tried to communicate was the emphasis. Some preaching tries so hard to be relevant that Christ gets lost. Other preaching is so obsessed with top tips that the text’s intent (namely, to reveal a person), gets lost. On the latter one, we have a lot of preaching in the wider church that amounts to top tips for living as an independent mini-god in a post-Genesis 3 world. Hopefully when I put it that starkly you would agree that such preaching is not what we need. Consequently I am not speaking primarily about evangelistic preaching. What I am suggesting is that when our “for believers” preaching grows distant from the good news that should permeate our message, then we can inadvertently be preaching non-Christian content . . . i.e. feeding The Lie of our autonomy and independence. This is important stuff to wrestle with as we preach the Bible. Thanks for engaging with the post, really helpful.
Thanks for the clarification. I’d agree with that.
Another issue might be to preach the issue or spiritual tip from a Christ-centred angle. Sometimes preaching portions directly address an issue or provide a tip (using Chris’s wording). But in their context, they are always following a foundation of what God has accomplished through Christ. So, in preaching the Text, we don’t avoid the issue/tip, but we encourage faith-driven obedience (“Because of our relationship with Christ, by faith we _______.” or something like that.