Friday, September 19, 2014

Creative Preaching?

I had several thoughts converge when I saw this ad, and none were complimentary. However, I do think this ad captures the essence of what is misdirected, ill advised, bad, and just plain wrong with what is coming out of so many pulpits across our land today. There is indeed a pressure from the masses, a II Timothy 4:3-4 type of pressure, for the pastor to be fresh, creative, original, and entertaining with his messages, or else the crowd is off to the one who will meet their demands; and what is also implied in the II Timothy passage is that there will always be pastors who are eager to give the masses what they want.

This pressure from the masses is in conflict with the charge to the preacher in II Timothy 4:1-2 to preach the word in season and out, rebuking, reproving, correcting, and instructing.  Somehow, you can't entertain and rebuke simultaneously; creativity and correction just don't go together; and instruction in godliness doesn't meet felt needs...especially the modern crowd's need to feel better about their bad self.

There is always a temptation for the pastor to play to the crowd, which involves ignoring what they need in order to give them what they want.  Advertisements like the one above certainly aid in the succumbing of the pastor to that temptation.  You will also notice that they want to help you be creative and fresh, for a price. Brothers, let's call that what it is. That is not ministry, that is merchandising.  

In II Corinthians Paul defends his preaching to the Corinthians against the charge that he was personally unimpressive, unskilled in speaking (not eloquent in the manner of the day), and he had nothing to say that was worth listening to. (It makes me wonder if Paul had the church at Corinth in mind when he penned those verses in II Timothy.)  If you read through both epistles to the Corinthians you will discover that in Paul's preaching to them, he gave them what they really needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.  He was determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, He brought them the gospel, He laid out Jesus Christ as the foundation of their faith, His message and preaching were not of eloquent persuasion but demonstrated the power of the Spirit, He preached God's wisdom instead of man's, and lived out before them what he preached to them.  He never worried or fretted about being fresh or creative, but in preaching Christ to them he gave them the full counsel of God.

Brother pastors, let us not fall prey to the siren call of the shallow silliness of the day, let us not succumb to the temptation to be fresh and original, let us not be led astray by the enticement of slick advertisements that play on our insecurities; but let us remain faithful to our charge to handle the word rightly, let us preach it faithfully, let us preach it boldly and unapologetically, and let us preach it in the power of the Spirit so that we will have no regrets when our work is tested by fire in that last day, and we will  receive our full reward.

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