Monday, January 26, 2015

Is our preaching succumbing to our Culture?

William Willimon Professor of Christian Ministry over at Duke University delivered an observation on Tuesday 20th Sept 2011 called "the Culture is overrated" which is even more poignant today.
He started by saying
When I recently asked a group of pastors what areas they wanted help with in their preaching, most replied, “To preach sermons that really hit my people where they live.”
At one time I would have agreed this was one of the primary purposes of Christian preaching—to relate the gospel to contemporary culture. Now I believe it is our weakness.
In leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear we may have fallen in. Most of the preaching in my own denomination struggles to relate the gospel to the modern world. We sought to use our sermons to build a bridge from the old world of the Bible to the modern world; the traffic was always one way, with the modern world rummaging about in Scripture, saying things like, “This relates to me,” or, “I’m sorry, this is really impractical.” It was always the modern world telling the Bible what’s what.
This way of preaching fails to do justice to the rather imperialistic claims of Scripture. The Bible doesn’t want to speak to the modern world; the Bible wants to convert the modern world.
Much of what William says is challenging to our preaching to the world, but when we consider we are preaching mostly to our congregations, those professing to be Christians, claiming to be disciples of Jesus, then this speaks volumes about where they are at.

It certainly clear that many find it difficult to listen to expository preaching, they much prefer the 3 point sermon or topical sermon. In most cases for the expository sermon to be palpable it must begin with an attention getter from our world and end with some worldly relevance to my situation. As the kind professor pointed out, too often the focus is how all this "relates to me" in my situation, my life experiences.

Now I am not for a moment suggesting we go to the opposite end of the pendulum and have preaching not at all relating to the hearer, yet even saying it that way is to misunderstand the preaching of Scripture. It's not all about you. Frequently the application is seeing How Great God is and His faithfulness and dedication to fulfilling His plan and praising and Thanking Him. Many Christians at this point are in need of reassessing their attitude to God addressing them in the Bible.

William said "the Bible wants to convert the modern world". Just as aptly we might say that for believers listening to the Scriptures, "The Bible wants to transform you. make you more like Christ."

Read William and prayerfully reflect on how you listen to the Sermon this Sunday.

In Christ

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