Already Been Said

And said better.

There is a surfeit of teaching in today's churches. Needed prayer and testimony time will be sacrificed for the sermon (and also, painfully, the announcements). Pastor's plan is to take a very small portion of Bible text and load on the anecdotes and practical guidelines for "today's parishioner".

Unfortunately there is a suspicion evidenced in many pulpits that if too much time is given to straight- out Bible exposition the message will be dusty. Hence all the current and charming extraneous stuff.

Perhaps pastors need to reimagine their roles. Might more emphasis be given to counsellor, comforter, coach, corrector and conductor? What a shock! So much time goes now into the crafting of the sermon.

I must confess that many of the messages sound as if they are being directed to new believers; the foundational message of Grace; the multi-faceted pitch to turn one's will over to the will of God. I ask myself, 'Do the listeners have Bibles of their own, and do they read them with interest, discuss them with trusted friends?' Let's stop the spoon-feeding. Perhaps go directly to the people and ask where their understanding needs help and clarification. "Surgical preaching" I would call it.

Do not emphasize what we are going to do or say; focus rather on what Jesus has already done and said. This is the only legitimate approach to "what would Jesus do" (WWJD).

Talk about lifestyle? Go to the Sermon on the Mount. Talk about learning of the Father's heart? Go to the Prodigal Son. Talk about spiritual equipment for challenges of holiness? Go to the Upper Room Discourse, and learn of His love, comfort, peace, Spirit and joy. Talk about the lateness of the hour and the burden for souls? Go to the Olivet Discourse and hear Jesus prophesy in the light of what is happening in our day. Talk about the wickedness of self-reliance and trusting in works? Go to the parable of the Vine or the parable of the Wedding Banquet. Talk about more effective prayer life? Go to John 17 or the incident of the determined Syrophenician mother.

And in going to the first and best source we are sure to avoid detours and distractions. The Apostle Peter said that in his messages he was constantly "putting the people in remembrance". He was not going over his weekend at the lake, some interesting lifestyle book just completed or front page news from secular whirlpools. (Leave all of that to the lecturer in some other forum.)


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