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Friday, March 03, 2006

12 Theses on Preaching

Jason, over at Theology Geek, makes some interesting comments. As a man in the pew who listens to sermons every week, he reminds us preachers what we're about.

There's a lot of bad preaching out there, not that I speak as the master. But some observations:

1) You can't preach God's Law properly without offending people. If people don't get their feelings hurt, you haven't done it right. If people don't want to throw stones at you, try harder. Woe to you when all men speak well of you.

2) God's law condemns us all. My job as a preacher is not so much to rail against the evils of society. It's to slam the evils of the people sitting right in front of me (and including myself every step of the way).

3) If you hear me preaching the law and you say, "tell 'em Rev," then either I'm not doing it right or you're not listening. I'm talking to you.

4) I am not in the pulpit to give you advice or tips for living. Too many sermons are just ethics lectures.

5) A sermon that does not proclaim the cross as its central theme is NOT a Christian sermon.

6) If I do not preach about sin, hell, cross, justification, atonement, and forgiveness in every single sermon, I should be taken to the proverbial woodshed.

7) It's not about you. It's about Jesus. One of the errors of Rick Warren is that he claims that worship is primarily about you doing something for God. He actually says that it's not supposed to be for you to get something out of it. It's so that you can do for God. What a load of manure! Worship is Primarily about God serving us with his grace through Word and Sacrament. Our response of praise is secondary. It's about what God does, not what you do.

8) Sermons that mostly talk about Jesus as our example are toxic. Jesus did not come to show me how to live. He came to be tortured to death because of me and in so doing, to destroy the work of the devil.

9) The gospel is not a means to an end. We don't preach the gospel so that we can get on to something better, like morality.

10) The gospel is not just for unbelievers. I used to be involved, as a teen, with Youth for Christ and went to weekly Saturday rallies. The leader once told us that we should go bring our non-Christian friends because otherwise we're just preaching the gospel to a bunch of Christians. Even at 16, I thought, "What's wrong with that? I need it too."

[And before anyone flips, I do believe we should be bringing non-Christians to church.]

11) The cross is not just for special occasions, like Good Friday and evangelism. It's for every sermon.

12) A person who get tired of hearing about justification needs to go back to theses 1-4.

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John said...

Good start! So when do we get the other 83?

Ryan P.T. said...

"9) The gospel is not a means to an end. We don't preach the gospel so that we can get on to something better, like morality."

I don't disagree, but what about Ephesians 2v8-10, John 15v16, and Romans 6v4, et. al? These texts indicate that the Gospel is in a certain sense a "means to end" [shudder]. Perhaps you aren't speaking about what the bible says, per se, but what the task of the preacher is? In other words, it isn't the job of the preacher to preach the new life, it's the "job" of the Gospel to create it? If that's the case, I agree.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Good point. As you said, the gospel is a means to an end "in a certain sense." The new life is a result of Law/Gospel preaching.

What I am protesting is the apparent use of the gospel as a mere pretext to talk about ethics and morality.

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