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preaching article You May Be Called to Preach, but You Still Need a Role Model

You May Be Called to Preach, but You Still Need a Role Model

based on 3 ratings
Jul 8, 2015

That preacher does not know me from Adam. I’m glad, because he would probably not be pleased with anything that follows.

I sat in the church recently where he was filling in for the regular pastor. It was a small church, and the service was poorly done, I regret to say, from beginning to end. I know that sounds harsh, and I am no judge of anyone’s worship.

But some things are obvious to everyone.

No one involved in that church service—I’m hesitant to call it a worship service—seemed to have a clue of it being a time of worship, of reverence and holiness. No advance thought had been given to the songs to sing, prayers to be offered or comments made. Everything was off the cuff. The welcome and hymn introductions were silly and went on and on.

My opinion is when those leading a service see it as a community fun time, the failure lies at the feet of the pastor. He sets the standard. But since I do not know the man, this is neither about him nor his leadership team.

I wanted to tell you what the guest preacher did.

After he was introduced—and rather poorly, I may say; if anyone caught his name, I’d be surprised—the man walked to the pulpit, gave a few opening remarks, then had us turn to his text. Then he stepped out from behind the pulpit and began a full-scale exhortation. He had not even read the Scripture, but he was already into full preaching mode.

The brother’s preaching was loud and fast, delivered in a staccato style he picked up from somebody along the way and which, no doubt, he and his colleagues consider the right way to preach. He gave no introduction to the sermon. This man simply stepped off the high diving board into the deep water.

Except there was no deep water.

I’d have loved some depth to the sermon. It would have compensated for having to listen to his attack style of proclamation. But the man never expounded the Scripture, never told us why it’s there in the Word, how to implement its instruction or why that’s a good idea. He never brought in other texts where the same idea is communicated or where variations on the same theme flesh out this truth.

He cited his text a few times, I’ll give him that. But nothing more.

The man made me think of a shepherd going out to feed the flock and telling the sheep, “There’s the food! Get it. It’s yours. Get it.” Then, for the next 25 minutes, he harangued the sheep for not getting into the feed and told them they were being disobedient if they didn’t. The problem with the world, he said, is that they don’t get into the food.

The essence of his content can be summed up in four words: Fuss at the people.

When the congregation left that day, I can almost guarantee not a single soul carried a burning desire to do anything the pastor said. He did not feed the sheep. He merely fussed at them for not eating.

Where did he learn that style of preaching, I wondered.

At one point in the message, the brother mentioned his call to preach. I don’t doubt for a minute that God called him to preach. If he says the Lord did, that’s good enough for me. What I do seriously question is his choice of role model. He clearly learned that unnatural, high-pitched, rapid-fire, machine-gun delivery method from someone. He learned to mimic some preachers who put all the emphasis on style and none on content to the serious detriment of their congregations.

That’s the saddest thing I know.

In some areas of the country, the culture of churches holds this up as the epitome of good preaching. To people in bondage to that culture, good preaching states the obvious, ignores the complexities of the Word, holds to the King James Version as the only inspired Word, emphasizes the negatives and never ever teaches God’s people anything they didn’t already know. 

I found myself praying for that guest preacher. I prayed one day soon he will hear someone like John MacArthur or Chuck Swindoll or Andy Stanley preaching the Word, and the Holy Spirit will awaken something inside him to say, “There! That’s how it should be done!”

I prayed he will experience one of those “aha!” moments when a spark shall ignite a new passion in him, a zeal for the kind of preaching that feeds the sheep, encourages God’s people, exalts Jesus, has a proper understanding of what the Word of God is and puts the emphasis on communication, not on theatrics.

Please understand I am not saying he should take any of these particular men as his role models. God has good preachers in every city and town in America. Good communicators of the Word abound, for which we give thanks. After all, the best preaching this guest preacher can do may end up being something new under the sun, the kind the Holy Spirit can do through him as He can with no one else.

How exciting that will be.  God grant.



Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at JoeMcKeever.com.

Talk about it...

Travis Chumley  avatar
Travis Chumley
0 days ago
Here where I grew up, Southern Baptist machine gun preaching is the preferred method. When I was called, I visited several churches and realized that it wasn't the only way. I'm glad because I was worried about the style. I moved towards evangelist style, I was influenced by Billy Graham who I think was very spiritual and brought many people to know Jesus through his speaking God's word. I do have to admit though, after some services I've been in, where no one will move to the spirit, I missed the old machine gun style preaching. I think it's a matter of what you were raised in and how God flows through you. I am greatful I was given the calling with a more soothing style but I think sometimes God's word is too much for us to comprehend and we must spit out the message as fast as we get it.,
Doug Lapointe avatar
Doug Lapointe
0 days ago
Joe, This is a nice, nice piece of writing. I admire it well. Who we choose as a role model says all about our preaching.
Noemi Gonzalez avatar
Noemi Gonzalez
0 days ago
I can just imagine the shock. I grew up in a church that today to me made no sence. Even if you are call to preach, you should prepare yourself in the word. Study and be approve. Don't just say what comes to mind or what you heard from some one else, with no foundation. We are responsivle for feeding the sheeps with the right nutrients in order for them to grow healthy.
Patrice Marker-Zahler avatar
Patrice Marker-Zahler
0 days ago
Joe, this is one of the saddest articles I have read in quiet a while; not because of the lack of this young preacher's delivery style, but the fact that you would think he was call because he said so because he is a man. In other articles you have made your opinion known on what you think of women who think they are called into the ministry. Thankful it is not what you think, but who God ordains.
Patrice Marker-Zahler avatar
Patrice Marker-Zahler
0 days ago
Joe, this is one of the saddest articles I have read in quiet a while; not because of the lack of this young preacher's delivery style, but the fact that you would think he was call because he said so because he is a man. In other articles you have made your opinion known on what you think of women who think they are called into the ministry. Thankful it is not what you think, but who God ordains.
Jonathan Mbuna avatar
Jonathan Mbuna
0 days ago
Well, Joe has called spade a spade and not a big spoon. However, I would be slow to judge this guest preacher and seek the face of God in how best to help him. Is it the style that is a problem? Is it the content of the message? Is it the vessel that is the problem?
Pastor Paul A. Taylor, Sr. avatar
Pastor Paul A. Taylor, Sr.
0 days ago
I had role models as a kid. I did not attend church regularly as a child. But my sister did. Her pastor was a role model for me. Not just because of his preaching, but his character. I remember him visiting our home. He talked to guys on street corners and visited pool halls. I've been preaching for a little while and I've been blessed with preachers who don't bite their tongue. My pastor and I are still very close. As pastors we do need positive and genuine role models. We need friendship among each other to. Only a pastor knows the struggles of a pastor. As a pastor I'm glad that I have pastor friends I can talk to and know that they understand. Of course I don't know the individual you are talking about. I know I've flunked some sermons in my preaching time. I will pray for him and pray that God use him in a mighty way.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.