A while ago, Peter Mead ran a series on his helpful website on the subject of “Preaching Epistles.” People ask me to bring different perspectives, so here is one that I read from time to time.
At any rate, one of his points for preaching epistles effectively is:
11. Preach, don’t commentate – Don’t offer your listeners either a running commentary or a labelled outline of the text. Make your points relevant to today, put them in today language, then show that from the “back then” as you explain the text. Don’t preach “back then” and then offer token relevance once people are disconnected and distracted.
Because of my public ministry, I receive a lot of questions. One question that comes up from time to time is whether the questioner should go to seminary or perhaps the location that one should attend seminary.
I see myself in many of these people. A while ago, I was in the same boat, just accepted my “call to ministry” and was ready to go to school to get the entrance requirements into ministry.
I was talking to someone the other day about how often our “kingdom building” is nothing more than “rearranging the seats.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you must worship at one particular location. Neither am I arguing that what we commonly call “church hopping” should be condemned as something that should never happen, but what I am saying is that this phenomenon does seem to hide little progress as the kingdom growing.
As this cartoon illustrates, before and after these changes we end up with the same amount of folks going. Have we done anything? Is this kingdom building? What can or should we do?
We often hear preachers pronounce Greek and Hebrew words in sermons. Sometimes they seem to be clarifying the message by appealing to an obscure word. Whatever the intent, one can easily confuse more than enlighten by pronouncing and appealing to words that the people have no real idea of knowing. If we are real, sometimes we pronounce words simply to demonstrate to the people that we have studied or to show off our education. Certainly that is not always the case, but it is probably more often true than we would like to admit.
Certainly we should use Greek and Hebrew in our PREPARATION, but when we get to our PRESENTATION should we? Sometimes referring to obscure points effectively removes the Bible from the hand of the people as they wonder if they can even understand it without the help of professionals.
We must be careful how we make use of our materials, otherwise we will make our people think that they can’t understand the Bible without us.
I don’t have a big problem when people disagree with me. That will happen from time to time. Actually, disagreements help me immensely. I learn a lot from disagreements. No, it is not disagreements that I hate most, what I hate is to be misunderstood. Sometimes the misunderstanding comes from the imprecision of the English language. Sometimes, it comes from the hearer not listening carefully. Sometimes, it comes form the hearer not having the full context of my work to understand what I am sayng.
But then sometimes it is due to my own mistakes in articulating my understanding. But be that as it may, I wanted to talk about a recurring theme in my work that is misunderstood by many.