May 4, 2012

Becoming a Better Preacher: Listen to a Heretic

 

This might be the most important post in this blog series.

The fracturing of the Evangelicalism disturbs me. There are those who are in and those who are out.

This has been made acutely clear with the kerfuffle that Rob Bell stirred up. Before Love Wins came out people were already loading up their attacks. Criticism isn’t the issue here, the attitude is.

To be clear I have issues with the book, but still think he raises questions that need attention. Also to be fair, read one of the response books, particularly Francis Chan’s.

In reading both of the above-mentioned books, I learned more than had I only read one.

If you want to be a better preacher, you have to learn from the other.

When it comes to preaching there are people we don’t care for. We have issues with their theology, methods, or style. A few words on all three.

Theology

Obviously we don’t have everything figured out when it comes to understanding God. We have people we strongly disagree with: maybe it is Pat Robertson or John Dominic Crossan, Brian McLaren or D.A. Carson, Richard Dawkins or Benny Hinn. Pick one from that list you disagree with and if you honestly look at their theology you will find truth that brings you closer to God.

Dawkins highlights man’s ability to reason and think independently. A true gift from God.

The first question you need to ask yourself when writing someone off because they are theologically foreign to you is “Why?” If it is because they believe differently than you find out exactly how.

Methods

Say what you will about Rob Bell, but the man can flat-out preach.

Same goes for Mark Driscoll.

Chances are one of these two has a preaching style you more closely align yourself with. Conversely, one of these two you find offensive, disjointed, distracting, etc.

I heard someone criticize Andy Stanley because his sermons were too practical. My guess is the thousands who have come to know Jesus Christ through his preaching would agree.

There is a reason people show up to hear certain preachers: They are effective.

Your preaching methods might be one-dimensional, but your whole congregation does not connect with you only through that one dimension.

Read some Seth Godin or Daniel Pink or anyone else’s book that isn’t at a Christian bookstore. Get a completely new perspective on communication. You shouldn’t limit yourself to what is native.

Style

3 points and an action step.

Jokes and a Jesus Juke.

Disjointed intro, rambling exegesis, and conclusion via closing prayer.

Most of you are probably “JV” Preachers. You get to preach that Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s or whenever the Lead Pastor is out of town. In that case you may not have a style yet, and that is perfect.

You aren’t in a rut yet.

If you are a secondary voice in your church and only preach from time to time it is imperative that your style is different from the dominant voice. Not that your pastor can’t preach, but if you preach just like he/she does two things will happen:

  1. You will get compared to them, and you aren’t as good no matter what your grandma says.
     
  2. What you have to say will be more of the same, static.

Do something different.

This doesn’t mean you have to get creative, just imitate someone who is different than you.

Besides, if you bomb you will get another chance next December.

You become a better preacher by listening to others, particularly those you don’t agree with. It illuminates the why behind what you believe, how you communicate, and your mode of delivery.

Josh Tandy is a Rookie Pastor who works for a local church that he loves. He coordinates local lunch meet-ups with other Rookie Pastors in the Indianapolis area and is starting to think about writing a book.

Originally Published: May 4, 2012
Category: Preaching
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