Recently, I attended our denomination’s annual national event.  The preaching in the main sessions was, for the most part, quite good.   
There was this one guy, though.  I neglected to buy the recording, so I can’t remember everything he said.  I do remember that he had, in that strange parlance we use to describe a preacher’s application, “some good points.”  But one of those points stuck me, and not in a good way.  And it’s stuck with me since.
As I say, I can only be as accurate as my poor memory will allow.  At the risk of misrepresenting the speaker, I will forge ahead.  He started out by saying that we were wrong to make Sunday morning the focus of church life.  He said we were to make disciples, not get people to come to the “big show.”  I agreed.  I imagine many of my brothers-in-arms did too-though we sometimes struggle to stay in focus. 
That didn’t rub me the wrong way.  Nor did I disagree with him when he indicated that preaching wasn’t the way to make disciples.  I assumed he meant the stopping point in the process.  I agree with Mark Driscoll who says we pastors must not only fight an “air war,” with the weapons of preaching and teaching, but the “ground war,” via various ministries, as we develop followers of Christ. 
What stuck in my ears, and my craw, was the preacher’s assertion that preaching was “the lecture method” of teaching.  He’d talked to teachers, he said.  They agreed, if you want people to learn, you can’t rely on lecture.  I believe his assertion to be both erroneous and ironic. 
It is erroneous because it confuses preaching with the mere conveyance of information.  It leaves no room for the presence of God, the power of the Holy Spirit in preaching.  If preaching is merely telling somebody what something is or what to do with or about something, if it’s merely transmitting information, then, I freely admit, there are other ways to do that.  But most preachers who’ve been at it a while understand:  there’s more going on here than just a bunch of heads turned toward one talking head. 
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  If I didn’t believe that the Holy Spirit worked through preaching, not just saying what God wants said, but  mysteriously invoking the presence of God, I’d quit preaching and go write comic books. 
Not only is the speaker’s assertion flawed, it’s ironic.  Here’s a guy up front lecturing us not to lecture!  I wonder if he noticed the irony.  Perhaps he decided he’d drop his bomb, trusting that the collateral damage (those who, of course, would’ve fallen asleep during his lecture) would be minimal. 
The only sadder thing than this faux pas from the stage was the reaction from the audience.  The brave souls, the men who fight on their knees in study and prayer, the better to shine with Christ from their pulpits every Sunday, were silent.  We who’d come for refreshment might’ve found it in that moment…if only we’d thrown back our heads and laughed. 

Check out more great articles

About The Author

Gary D. Robinson (1955-2013) was the pastor of North Side Christian Church, in Xenia, Ohio. He also served at churches in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He was also the author of several sermon collections.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.