Wednesday, June 14, 2006

But what else is there?

I have been exploring the problems with expository preaching. This has prompted the reaction, “But what else is there?” Most people have a hard time imagining an alternative to expository preaching that doesn’t have even more inherent problems.

Andrew Jones suggests one possibility. He writes about a sermon he heard more than 20 years ago. Many people have trouble remembering what they heard last Sunday.

The sermon was given by
Dr. Walter Martin, one of the most prominent apologists of the late 20th century. What made this sermon different was that it was a narrative (without the obligatory three points and a conclusion).

Another guy, who calls himself
Preacher Mike, suggests, “The goal isn’t to make points but to arrive at a point (destination). The message, like Christian discipleship itself, is a journey — informed by the text, shaped by the text. Instead of seeing myself as the one who explains the Bible to everyone, I see myself as a leader in the journey who escorts people into the messy, marvelous, unbelievable, life-altering world of scripture.”

David Mahfood adds his voice, “The kind of narrative I'm talking about means going deeper, telling a story that does more than merely highlight a point. Communicating using narrative is a challenge because it requires us to be so immersed in the text that we can recognize its truth as it plays out in our lives. It is also challenging because it requires that we actually be living lives that could demonstrate such truths. But I believe that these are the challenges that we are supposed to have in talking about Christianity.”

[One of the problems lying behind this discussion is that some systems of theology depend more upon correct belief than upon “being transformed into his likeness” (2 Corinthians 3:18). “
These people believe in justification by faith in justification by faith.” Doctrine is important, but Christianity is not faith in a doctrine. It is faith in a Person.]

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”


Steve Sensenig said...

This may be met with fierce opposition, but there is an even different alternative. That alternative is a model of church that doesn't use monologue-style preaching on a regular basis to teach believers.

In this sense, the question is not "What kind of preaching is right?" but rather "Is preaching the main emphasis in the gathering of believers?"

Many (especially those of the Reformed camp) believe that preaching is the central element (or at least one of the two or three central elements) necessary for a gathering to even be defined as a "church".

I have a theory that I've been working through and testing against the whole counsel of Scripture. That theory is that preaching itself is largely geared toward unbelievers, and that gatherings of believers are marked by more participatory, interactive meetings.

In other words, preaching is well-suited toward the proclamation of the Kingdom, but interactive teaching (dialogue, etc.) is more suited toward discipleship of growing believers.

Since you label yourself here as "Pastor" Rod, I'm curious what you think of this. I do enjoy reading your posts and comments here and on other blogs. Your tone and attitude is a blessing, Rod.

steve :)

Pastor Rod said...


I agree with most of what you say, especially the kind things you said about me :-). Seriously, it's good to hear those positive comments about my tone and attitude. The watchbloggers have an entirely different opinion. Thanks for your generous words.

I agree that the method of preaching has been incorrectly canonized. Some of this is a result of a bad interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:21. And it has turned into a virtual sacrament in many circles.

I think your theory has some substance. I'm not sure about making a sharp distinction between an audience of believers and unbelievers. Most audiences are a combination.

Also, I believe that Keller is on the right track with his Gospel-centered preaching, that proclaiming the Gospel is the proper way to stimulate growth in believers.

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to contribute to the conversation.