A while back I wrote a post on how we sometimes domesticate Jesus. He becomes a Jesus who always supports our own causes and defeats other’s causes. As I noted before, it is easy to turn the radical Jesus, who always confronts our own assumptions as well as those of others, into a domesticated slave that carries water for our own agendas.
In today’s charged health care battle an interesting Jesus has emerged. The Jesus who cares little about social issues or even social groups. The one who is seeking to set up a kingdom has been turned into one who cares little about social groups and only individual entities. It is interesting what the West has done to Christianity. We have taken a religion with its strong social component and turned it into a individualized thing. No wonder many feel no problem with disobeying the suggestion to “forsake not the assembly of yourselves…”(Hebrews 10:25)
The reality that Jesus is coming back, not for an individual, but for a church (Ephesians 5:27). No wonder our ecclesiology is nonexistent and deficient. What has happened? A subtle facsimile of Christianity has taken the place of the true article. And this counterfeit has removed our corporate responsibility, but more than that, the very idea of a corporate identity that matters. It is time to go back to the East and lay aside our “rugged individualism” if we are to truly grasp the gospel. If not, we will totally lose all vestiges of our corporate identity and turn the Kingdom of God into a vassal of the American state.
The question has come up on many if not most of our web seminars. The question is interesting in my own Soul Preaching ministry in that we are an eclectic mix of various denominations. While that is true, 50% of our membership are Baptists and approximately 25% are nondenominational evangelicals. Thus, a good 75% of our readers are conservative evangelicals. Certainly in the Black Church we seek to raise a “prophetic voice” against racism, but the reality of sexism does not bring the same call.
Often when the question comes up, I have ignored the question in seminars in that the question was not exactly what the seminars were about, but then in our last seminar, I referred to preachers in the generic as “he.” This is something that I attempt to never do. I quickly corrected the pronoun usage to “she or he.” To that simple correction one preaching sista thanked me for recognizing the fact that not only can women preach, but they were online right now listening to the seminar. I stated that I know that our sisters are listening. In fact a good 60% of all of our visitors to Soul Preaching and our seminars are our Sister Preachers. I then stated how I am humbled by the fact that our sisters can find a little something to help them from this poor brother who still on occasion makes the mistake of leaving gender inclusive language for our preachers.
Then, a question came in about how can I defend women preaching? To this I spoke of the reality that the Bible says that in the last days God will pour out God’s spirit on all flesh. (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17) All flesh means all male and female, if one is wondering about who this is, then the text tells us that sons and daughters will prophesy and then in case some are wondering, the text re-emphasizes it again by saying that God will pour God’s spirit on both male and female in the next verse (Acts 2:18). This spirit that is poured out is to prophesy. To prophesy is to speak truth. It is to utter forth and declare. How can one prophesy if one is not preaching? It is an accepted part of our tradition in the Black Preaching Tradition that we are in the lines of the prophets speaking truth to power and uttering truth by divine inspiration. The text is telling us that that work will be done by both male and female in the last days. And why should it not be? There have always been female prophets such as Miriam Exodus 15:20, Deborah Judges 4:4, Huldah 2Kings 22:14, Noahdia, Nehimiah 6:15, Anna Luke 2:36, Phillip the Evangelists daughters Acts 21:7-9, And Paul even acknowledges that women prophesy in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Show me a prophet who doesn’t preach. You Can’t be a prophet and not preach! In the last days we are going to see more of this. Women will proclaim the word of God…yes they will preach!
But some wish to argue that modern day preachers are in the line of the priests and not the prophets. They wish to argue that because all the priests were . But I would argue that that was not God’s original intention. Look at God’s original intention was that Israel would be a Kingdom of Priests in Exodus 19:6. But something sidetracked the agenda and God settled on the Levities. But in Revelation we have a picture of the end where this will come to past. God will have a kingdom of priest (Revelation 1:6). Is this going to be only a kingdom of men? I think not. No in the last days, God will have male and female prophets and yes priests.
In my interdenominational ministry here, I have heard the stories. I have heard the stories of women leaving denominations to find one that supports women in ministry only to be sent to the hardest back woods towns and after turning it around being moved to another back woods town while a young male is placed in the place to get the benefits. I have heard the stories of working for years and barely getting a 3 member church 2 hours out of town. Yes, I have heard the stories from our sisters who have had their womanhood questioned just for wanting to obey the call of God on their lives. I have heard you, and I pray that God will continue to make a way out of your tears. Your road that you have taken, dear sister, has opened avenues to ministry that many of us may not have seen or appreciated.
Yes, when they wouldn’t ordain you as a pastor, you went on and became an evangelist and preached on anyway. Maybe you were like Shirley Ceaser and had to preach in between songs that you sang, but you preached on anyhow. Maybe you preached with your actions like Harriett Tubman. Yes, you trailblazed the way to ministry even when you didn’t have a church. While I am not a woman, I do believe that the ministry of Soul Preaching would not have been even thought of if it hadn’t been for our sisters who have had to think out of the box and their legacy pointed me towards going online without a church and without the credentials that some think you should have. Yes, I thank you sistas for your work and witness.
Finally, I also wish to say that perhaps my proudest moment in this ministry was when a Baptist sister wrote me and said that she followed the materials that were freely given on Soul Preaching Ministries. She put together a Bible Study with the materials. The church recognized the call of God on her life and she then put together a sermon. Finally, that church ordained her to the ministry. I am glad that God is using me to help fulfill that call to prophesy in the last days.
My original question was “Should Women Preach?” The short answer is they already are, and if the Bible is true, they will keep on preaching into the kingdom of God.
One of the interesting problems in some preaching is a premature celebration. The people are with the preacher and she or he has the church moving towards a powerful end. But then something happens and the people are lost and disoriented. Often this problem comes from a premature celebration.
The premature celebration happens when the preacher does not take care to move the sermon to a climax by presenting progressively intense points until the end of the sermon. You can hear it when the “shout” happens in the middle of the sermon and then the people find it hard to remember what happened after that.
Preachers should take care to move the sermon forward. And this movement forward is in its emotive reception. Don’t just throw out points in any order. Preachers must have in mind a reason for everything that the preacher does.
I am not saying that there should only be a shout at the end of the sermon. However, I am saying that your “shout” at the end of your sermon should be greater than all the other mini “celebration points” in the sermon. If you do that, then at least the end of the sermon will be remembered. And the end is connected properly to the rest of the sermon, then the people will remember the sermon and be ready to live out its implications throughout the rest of the week.
We are offering a free question and answer call on preaching at 8:30PM Central Time on February 23, 2010.
OK, maybe you will, but the law of averages tells us that the vast majority of the people reading this website will not have a mega church. You will, probably never preside over 3-5K parishioners who hang on your every word. But that’s all right.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you are not over 5K that you are a failure. Don’t fall into the trap of judging your congregation by the size of another congregation. Instead judge yourself by how well you are teaching the word of God. Judge your congregation by its spiritual growth. Judge your congregation by its community impact. Judge your congregation by the love that it shows to itself and others.
Many ministers and churches have inferiority complexes because of size, but lets be honest. How many mega churches are in your city? If you are a reasonable sized city maybe you can count the number with two hands, maybe even one hand. Now ask yourself, how many churches are in your city that are not “mega churches?”Â Now ask yourself, are these churches with less than 200 members failures?
Yes you probably will never pastor a mega church. Maybe you won’t even pastor a mini-church. But when you get into that pulpit, you owe it to your God and to the people who are sitting in front of you, to preach it like you are preaching to thousands. Preach the Gospel, promote growth through effective evangelism and methodology, and then leave the increase to God.