Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Deeper" Preaching

The responsibility that I have each week to stand before God's people and preach is deeply humbling. The Bible says in James 3:1, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." It isn't just the message of a man that is judged carefully, but rather, in the context of James, it is also his moral character which comes under great scrutiny. Believe me when I tell you that I do not take my calling as a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ lightly. I understand that what I do is not a result of who I am, rather it is all because of Who I belong to and the amazing grace that flows from him.

Still, I can tell you that each week I have the joyful opportunity to labor in the Word of God to prepare what I genuinely hope to be is a God-honoring, Christ-focused, and church-building message. At the same time, I've been around the church long enough to know that there are many out there who think that the preacher just rolls out of bed on Sunday and climbs into the pulpit. There are some who think we work just one day a week! "How hard could it be?" they say. Others are homiletics experts in their own minds, and they aren't afraid to say so. I remember boldly (foolishly?) asking for feedback on a survey after one of my first sermons at a former church. Sure, there were some encouraging comments. But there were also some brutally honest remarks as well. (FYI, if you don't want somebody's opinion, don't ask them for it.) The longer that I am in the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ the more I realize that it takes deep humility and deep faith in God to do the work of a pastor. At times you sort of feel that, as a pastor, you are viewed by some as a "Customer Service Representative" for the Almighty God Himself! I'm sure that Moses felt that way from time to time.

Last week, I saw this blog post on "What is 'Deeper' Preaching?" by Pastor Pete Wilson. Pete is a dynamic pastor of a growing network of churches in the Nashville, TN, area. The post certainly resonated with my heart and I wanted to share it with you as well. Below is the same video that Pete posted of a conversation between John Piper and Rick Warren, two modern-day super-preachers of the church. Take a look at this video clip. Dare I say it...Let me know your thoughts.


  1. Okay: here's my opinion. I think it's important for a shepherd to know well the condition of his flock. If his flock is a bunch of immature new believers, his sermons might fall on deaf ears if they were very deep. But a good teacher doesn't target to the lowest common denominator in the class, either. Those students need more one on one tutoring. Let the class keep up with the teacher. I don't think it's commendable in any way that Warren never used the word sanctification in a 12 week study of the subject. That, to me, sounds like he's dumbing down the message because he doesn't think his people can grasp it. And if he can't help them to understand it in 12 weeks time, maybe he shouldn't be teaching. I think he might do better to expect more from his people. It is a huge challenge for a well-trained seminary graduate to undertake the task of presenting God's word to a flock of mixed up people with the goal of them growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I appreciate the humility and gravity with which you approach the task. Ultimately, even in preaching, it is the Lord Christ whom you serve. And to be a workman unashamed who can rightly divide the truth is an honorable aim for a godly man.

    By the way, you know I'm a Pyro fan. There were some excellent posts last week regarding this subject and in response to the Piper/Warren interview. Here's one you might find relevant to your post today: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/06/words-words-and-words.html Also, the excerpt from Spurgeon is apropos.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Merrilee. I do appreciate (and PERSONALLY HOLD) the perspective represented on the site you added at the end of your remarks. I completely agree that we need to present the Word of God and trust the Spirit of God to bring understanding. I hope you understand my point with this post was to touch lightly on the reality that many participants in the church feel that the sermon is primarily for their minds and not for their hearts. So, a "deep sermon" is one litered with Greek words and/or cultural references painting the backdrop of the text. I think that we definitely need to communicate what the Bible says without compromising how the Bible says it. We need to carefully explain the text of Scripture so as to accurately convey the message of our loving Father, as well as seek to spiritually apply the text connecting the heart of the worshiper to the heart of God. I also agree regarding your comments about "expectations" between the pastor and those in the pew. This is a sobering task indeed! Again, this is a big time topic and a lot of opinions are out there. Thanks for sharing yours!