Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Why Weighty Preaching is Not Bad but Actually Necessary

I am reading through T. David Gordon’s critique of today’s preaching: Why Johnny Can’t Preach.  This quote may in fact be used by the Lord to rescue me from trite “current” preaching.  Speaking of what type of minister our media saturated culture produces, Gordon writes:
Ministers who are not at home with what is significant; ministers whose attention span is less than that of a four-year old in the 1940’s, who race around like the rest of us, constantly distracted by sounds and images of inconsequential trivialities, and out of touch with what is weighty.  It is not surprising that their sermons, and the alleged worship that surrounds them, are often trifling, thoughtless, uninspiring, and mundane.  It is not surprising that their sermons are mindlessly practical, in the “how-to” sense.  It is also not surprising that their sermons tend to be moralistic, sentimentalistic, or slavishly drafted into the so-called culture wars.  The great seriousness of the reality of being human, the dreadful seriousness of the coming judgment of God, the sheer insignificance of the present in light of eternity—realities that once were the subtext of virtually every sermon—have now disappeared, and have been replaced by one triviality after another.
I hope you read that.  Especially if you are a preacher of the gospel. 
Any person that knows me has come to understand that I greatly appreciate men like Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, the Puritans, and John Newton.  These men were/are weighty in their preaching.  I have been greatly influence by what Thomas Boston communicated in The Art of Manfishing, “If you believe that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God, you can not speak to them as if you were telling a story.”  And so my preaching has taken upon a certain gravity. 
Weighty preaching leads to a problem, though; especially, if you struggle with a desire to be a people pleaser.  The problem with weighty preaching is that the congregation lives in the same world that Gordon describes for the preacher: preoccupied with the insignificant and unimportant.  Neither the preacher nor the congregation really wants to come face to face with the significant and important.  
To buck this trend might mean to be thought of as, “too deep”.  Weighty preaching will cause people to have to chew and digest so you may not see instant results.  In order to really preach a text with weight you will have to feel that text—and that often hurts.  Not to mention to really feel a text means to know it, so this means more time.  There really is no “big secret” to preaching weighty, so you may not be seen as cutting edge.  Creation, fall, and redemption might get a little old.  People may get sick of hearing that the only remedy is the gospel.  It will be tempting to offer other solutions, to not beat the same drum.  You might lose a few people. 
People will flock to flashy; but what they really need is weighty.  We cannot afford to entertain, merely inform, and make certain that the people enjoy our sermons.  I am not calling for boring sermons where lazy or unbroken and untouched men “preach the text” but refuse to let themselves be broken under it.  I hunger to be broken by the sermons that I preach, to preach them passionately, and to preach as a dying man to dying men and women. 
Lord rescue us from the trivial and enthrall our hearts with that which is weighty! 

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