Ignoring Relevance

LearningAnother approach to relevance that preachers use is the ignoring relevance approach. Here you don’t even worry about relevance. Instead of telling folks that something is relevant because you must believe it (brute force) or it is relevant because it is true (take it or leave it) you now assume it is relevant. In fact you may not even assume it is relevant you may simply attack the whole notion of relevancy.

Often these kinds of sermons are theoretical and way above the heads of the hearers. In addition, they usually simply inform the mind alone. Preachers who fall into this trap use a “classroom teacher” as the metaphor for a preacher rather than a “prophet” or even a “priest.” Their people go home with notebooks full of notes but no idea how to use it.

I remember when I was taking math in college. Because math was my minor I had to take many courses in math. I had all kinds of teachers. I can remember specifically one of my teachers who always applied everything. It was probability and statistics. He had an example for every concept he taught. Thus the points he presented were understandable and applicable to my life. And interestingly enough, I still use probability on occasion. However, I can remember another teacher who seemed to attack the very idea of relevance. He would drone on and one about rigor and theoretical purity. He had few examples. And in the end, I no longer can even remember his points let alone apply them.

We cannot simply ignore or attack relevance. In the end, great preaching will require it. The question is not whether you should be relevant to your people, the question is how. And that is our next post in this series.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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