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You're Not Called to Preach

Thom Schultz more from this author »

HolySoup.com

Date Published: 4/4/2013
Thom Schultz: "We're not called to preach. We're called to reach."

The young man was puzzled. He heard me and other panel members cite the inherent limitations of regular lectures and sermons. After we encouraged the audience to insert some experiential elements into their teaching, he raised his hand.

“But what about the biblical mandate to preach?” he asked.

Now I was puzzled. First, I wondered how his concept of preaching confined itself to mere lecture. In order for preaching to be preaching, must it exclude everything that’s not one guy lecturing at a microphone?

Then I wondered about his assertion of “the mandate.” I told the audience that I didn’t conclude that “the mandate” of scripture was to preach. Yes, Jesus instructed his disciples to go out and preach. But when I think of a “mandate,” I think a little bigger. I’d consider scripture’s mandate to be something big, such as “make disciples,” or “help bring people into a growing relationship with Jesus,” or "accomplish Jesus’ Great Commandments: love God, love people."

Those are mandates with significant outcomes. And as faithful followers of Christ, we need to find effective ways to pursue those mandates. That may include some preaching. But ultimately, we’re not called to preach. We’re called to reach.

If we want to be effective at following the real mandates, and to be more successful at reaching people, at communicating, we would do well to look at the methods of the master communicator, Jesus.

Complete the Communication

First, Jesus modeled a true understanding of communication. He knew that communication is not merely sending information. In order for communication to happen, people need to receive and be transformed by the message. It’s Jesus’ Parable of the Sower.

I often hear preachers defend the flat lecture method as pure in its own right, armored with theological education, marinated in exhaustive sermon prep and festooned with biblical truth. All of that is good, but if it doesn’t complete the communication process, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. It’s akin to asking your child to join you for a game of catch, and you hurl beautifully thrown balls in every direction but your child’s. You may feel like a wonderfully athletic pitcher, but you’re not playing catch. You’re playing with yourself. And your kid gets nothing out of your performance.

Engage People

Jesus used lots of methods to communicate and transform lives. He didn’t confine his messages to flat lecture. He engaged his people with memorable experiences and interaction. He involved people in colorful feats. He used fish and dirt and rocks and water to engage his people. He encouraged questions. He didn’t fear give-and-take interaction.

When he set out to teach about humble servanthood, he could have given a plain lecture. He could have handed out a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. But he didn’t do that. He dropped to his knees and washed his people’s feet. He engaged them in a way that connected, in a way they would never forget.

Follow the Leader

If we desire to effectively pursue the big mandates, we need to act a lot more like Jesus. How? Include captivating, meaningful experiences. Allow questions. Give opportunities for everyone to talk and engage with those around them.

One Sunday in my church we decided to re-enact one of Jesus’ lessons on forgiveness. The youth group rigged up a wooden pallet with a pulley at the ceiling. On cue, the kids lowered the pallet into the sanctuary. A form on the pallet was covered with a sheet. The pastor told the story of a similar experience that Jesus used, as recorded in Mark 5. “This is an account not only of healing, but of faith and forgiveness,” he said. He then walked over, slowly removed the sheet, and revealed a loaf of bread and cups of wine. The congregation gathered around for a most memorable communion.

Another pastor friend wanted to engage his congregation in an experience of running from God. Before people arrived he placed an overly ripe dead fish in front of a fan in the sanctuary. For the message time, he asked everyone to move to the center aisle and stand in darkness as he related the story of Jonah. He asked the people to share with one another a time they felt like running from God. Then he asked them to share how they were feeling about this dark, confined, smelly experience.

They connected — with the message, with one another and with God. Weeks later, one man told the pastor that this fishy experience came flooding back to him just as he was tempted to enter into a shady business deal. He turned it down because he didn’t want to run from God and find himself in a “dark, smelly mess.”

That’s transformational teaching. It’s an experience. It’s Jesus-style teaching.


Thom Schultz

Thom is the chairman of Group Publishing, and president of the Lifetree Cafe national network.

Jmba 2001
May 4, 2013
I am a follower of Christ, but not a preacher/pastor/minister/etc. I arrived at this site and post through a rather circuitous route. After reading the post followed by the myriad of comments, I felt compelled to set up an account that I never plan to use again, just to be able to comment. I realize I am in your community, commenting...perhaps uninvited, which incidentally is how "church" feels to many people...like it is YOUR community, where my comments and questions must wait for later as it would be an intrusion to your preaching. Sometimes I might wait, but usually not. Pastors are busy. Anyway, following are a few observations from a non-preacher: 1.) Many responses to the post were as if the person...the preacher...was in question. I interpreted the opening as 'lecturing' being in question, not whether you should preach or not; 2.) The Title - Yes, the title was provocative...So what?! I understood the headline in the context of the post, which was the manner of preaching (i.e., pontificating, lecturing, etc.), which is failing to connect with people. 3.) QUESTION: If a person were to choose whether or not to attend your church based on your response to Thom's post, do you think they would choose your church? For example, Tracy's comment (#11) leads me to believe that is a church I would enjoy as there is a commitment to biblical teaching, with humility, grace and love in the comments. By the way, there were others like Tracy. Chuck (#1) - I would go to your church too. 4.) Last point - I was really surprised to see the way many of you treat one another and speak to each other in this forum. I don't mean to be harsh, but YUK!!! If you think that what you say or how you say it in a private forum like this won't permeate your communication in the pulpit or elsewhere, I would suggest you think again. We see the things you think are hidden or under control. Instead, let's work on encouraging one another and building each other up. That doesn't mean agree with everything, but it certainly does [or should] change our approach when we do disagree. I hope I am not casting stones here, as I have many more issues of sin to deal with than you do with yours. I just hate to see fellow believers dismantle one another, especially in a forum geared to Preaching and Teaching. What I hate even more is when Satan can sit on the sidelines and not stir anything up between believers because he feels we don't need the help. Let's keep eyes on Jesus and do all for His glory. I love you all, even if my words may have sting to them. Honestly, I do! [delete comment]
Bill I have read your last two posts and I can assure you that I have not been offended by any disagreement with you or anyone else, for that matter. The only thing that offends me is when my Saviour is attacked in word or letter, or the word of God is set aside. Anything that I have posted on this forum has been written in accordance with the word of God as I have been given grace to understand it, and with a good conscience. My sincere belief is that to take personal offence at those who disagree with me or wrongly accuse me would be contrary to the tenets of the Christian faith. I thank you for your prayers and trust that you will be blessed in every way. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 14, 2013
@John, please accept my sincere apologies for having offended you. I did not purposely seek to misunderstand you, or to put words in your mouth; and I appreciate the effort you took to clarify your remarks. I hold no ill will towards you, and ask that you likewise hold none towards me. Thank you for the ministry you provide, and know that you will be in my prayers in a special way this week. May God bless you richly! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 14, 2013
@John, first of all, i'm curious as toI appreciate your response, and again, I am relieved to know that I misunderstood. You know, my concerns are not completely off the wall. You say that you reviewed your comments carefully and that it was not logical to reach such conclusions. But may I suggest that the reason is because you reviewed your comments from your own point of view. You know what you had going in your mind when you wrote your words. I don't. I can't read your mind. All I had to go on was what you wrote. I would encourage you to review your comments again; but this time, try to read it from MY point of view. Try to put yourself in my shoes, and see if your comments don't come across differently from there. I mean, think about it: you say that if I had understood the word "trawl," which you say is a term from the fishing industry, I would've realized the implication of what you were say. Seriously, what in the world makes you assume I have any knowledge about the fishing industry?? I live hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, man; I don't have the slightest clue about anything having to do with the fishing industry! If a working knowledge of fishing terminology is a prerequisite for understanding your explanation to me, don't you think it may have been a good idea to have checked first to see if I HAD such a knowledge? So, you see, no matter what you may think of me, I'm not paranoid. At worst, I'm simply ignorant of the fishing industry. I'm just a guy who's trying to make sense of someone making obscure references that make perfect sense in his own mind, but which leave me wondering what in the world you're talking about! Nevertheless, I appreciate your explanation; and I don't know what makes you think I would reject it. I have tried to be respectful to you. I've given you every benefit of the doubt, and I've been completely open to the likelihood that I was misunderstanding you. So, of course I accept your explanation. One last thing to think about. Dennis and I obviously don't always see eye to eye, and we engage in vigorous debate on here from time to time. But notice the difference between the two conversations. Despite our disagreements, I hold him in great respect as a brother in Christ; and I know that he does likewise for me. We found areas of agreement, and we ended our conversation cordially. His last post to me on this thread was words of appreciation. My last post to him was the passage from Paul reminding us to build each other up. I think that's the proper way two Christians should end a conversation, even one which included disagreements and misunderstandings. I know you wrote that you would no longer comment; and if you're comfortable with that, if you think your latest post was appropriate for a Christian conversation, so be it. I respect your decision. But I'm not comfortable with THIS being my last post to you, so I will offer one more. You are free to respond to it or not. But I hope that, if you do read it, that you will at least show me the courtesy of at least acknowledging so, writing something as simple as, "I read your last post." Thank you. [delete comment]
Bil I will attempt to allay your paranoia regarding suspicions that I am casting further aspersions in every post. I used the word trawl deliberately. It is derived from the fishing industry and if you understand that you will realise the implication. There is an enthusiastic atheistic industry searching for weaknesses and inconsistencies in Christian testimony, literature and theology with express purpose of ridiculing the Christian faith. Perhaps it doesn't exist in the USA but I would be surprised if this is so. In any case Satan is aware of it and can use it. He is a great reader as we see in his temptation of The Lord Jesus. I am surprised that you suggest that I was ascribing even by implication any nefarious intention to you in this respect. I have carefully reviewed my words and it is not logically possible to arrive at that conclusion. I did not imply it, state it or mean it and am puzzled that a learned educator should have suspected it. I have given a very full explanation of my reasons for my posts. It is your prerogative to accept or reject them. Because this discussion has ceased to focus on the subject of the article and has become a dialogue as to whether or not I am attributing evil motives to you by bringing a serious charge against you, of which I am entirely innocent, I will refrain from further comment. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 13, 2013
@John, fair enough; but my question was still a valid one, namely, on what basis did you believe I MIGHT be very wrong? And you did answer the question, so I appreciate that. However, I am a bit concerned about your answer, and in the hope that again I misunderstood you, I hope that you can clarify something for me. You wrote that you believe "there are enemies of the cross of Christ that trawl [do you mean "troll?"] through Christian websites such as this and use careless inaccuracies for nefarious purposes." This seems like an odd answer, because your original comment regarding unbelievers reading this site seemed to be concerned with them being exposed to unbiblical ideas. However, your answer deals with unbelievers, or enemies of the cross of Christ, who "use careless inaccuracies for nefarious purposes." Which leads me to wonder: are you implying that I'M the one who is using careless inaccuracies, and that I'm doing it for nefarious purposes?? Are you suggesting that because I decide to use a phrase which I have explained much more than anyone should ever have to explain a throw-away phrase in casual conversation, that I'M the enemy of the cross of Christ in this scenario?? Please, please tell me I misunderstood, for that is a serious charge. And if I did misunderstand, then please explain why your concerns for unbelievers on this site are so completely different in those two posts! [delete comment]
Bill, please note my words and quote them accurately. I suggested that you MIGHT be very wrong. I believe that there are enemies of the cross of Christ that trawl through Christian websites such as this and use careless inaccuracies for nefarious purposes. Satan himself is aware of every written or spoken testimony to the risen Christ. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 12, 2013
@Joey, the article does not say we don't need preaching. Anywhere. Feel free to quote where the article SPECIFICALLY says preaching is not needed if you'd like to prove your point. The article says that MORE than preaching is needed, but that does not mean that LESS than preaching, or no preaching, is needed. That is not a legitimate, logical inference. [delete comment]
Joey Kennedy
April 12, 2013
As a preacher/pastor it blows my mind when people undermined the preaching of the word of God. We must first understand that preaching is not just putting your thoughts together. Preaching God's word is vital. "Real" preaching is inspired by God and is lead by the Holy Ghost of God. Saying that we don't need preaching is saying we don't need to hear from God and that's rediculous ! So please Men Of God, keep PREACHING! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 12, 2013
@Dennis, my pleasure! "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 12, 2013
@John, finally, in an effort to put to rest the discussion on my infamous claim, relax! I know you were not questioning my Christian faith, and I never took it that way. That thought honestly never crossed my mind. I understood your explanation for the reason for interjecting, and I figured that that was the reason when you first made your remark, before you explained it. So we're good here. You pointed out the truth, and I agree with what you said. The truth you pointed out is what I have believed since I can remember. And it's good that you pointed it out; it merited being pointed out. And what I meant by my claim does not contradict that truth in any way, which I have made explicitly clear. So, we're good, brother! We're on the same page. There's no problem or conflict between you and me, at least not from my end. Let's move on, if that's OK with you. Finally, as to the incidental question of whether or not unbelievers are tuning into our conversation in this forum, you say you believe I am very wrong (not just wrong, but VERY wrong!) to consider such a possibility as highly unlikely. Sure, it's possible I'm wrong. I've been wrong about many things before, so I am under no illusion that I am under some kind of immunity in this case! I did give you my reasons, however, namely, that none of the unbelievers I know--and I know A LOT--are the kind of people who spend time on a website target to Christian pastors and preachers reading the comment section. They've got so many other things much more important to them to spend their time on. I mean, doesn't that make sense? After all, do YOU spend much time on websites targeted to Atheists or Muslims or Hindus, or whatever? I don't! Now, I grant you that my ground for my belief is purely anecdotal evidence that does not account for every single one of the hundreds of millions of unbelievers on this planet who read English and have internet access. I don't claim it's not possible for an unbeliever to be reading these comments. But, if you care to indulge me, I'm curious to ask on what basis do YOU believe that I'm very wrong? [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 12, 2013
@John, I appreciate you taking the time to clarify, and I am relieved to know that I did misunderstand the statement. I know that I tend to write long posts--and the reason for that is because I don't have the time to really edit my comments and make them as concise as I'd like them to be--and I don't know if you take the time to read everything I write before addressing me. But if you had, you may understand the reason for why I misunderstood. See, you believe that I am lecturer. But I made it very clear in #53 that I consider myself above all an EDUCATOR, a TEACHER. That is MY mandate. That is the calling of God on MY life. As a teacher, some of what I do is lecture, sure. But I also make lesson plans, develop class objectives, lead out in class discussions, design interactive experiences by which students can engage with the ideas discussed in a particular work, administer and grade quizzes and exams, tutor students one-on-one who need extra help, and so much more. So, while lecturing is an important part of my profession, I do not like for my profession to be reduced to simply being a lecturer, just like I don't like for my profession to be reduced to simply being a book club leader, as I mentioned in #53. So, after I had explained all that and made it very clear, I hope you can understand, then, how I would take offense when someone says, Carry on lecturing, you're good at it. Nevertheless, I'm glad to know that your intention was not to offend; and if what I wrote earlier was not clear to you, I hope it is clear to you now! :) By the way, the lecturing that I do in class is in essence no different from most of the preaching I've heard my entire life. Right now in one of my classes we're studying Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. What do I talk about in my lecture? Well, I discuss the author, his background, especially his religious background. I give an overview of some of his other works and of the common themes among those works. I explain the historical setting for the novel, talking about the oppression of Roman Catholicism during the Mexican Revolution and the reason why the Church was oppressed. I talk about the overall story of the novel, what message the story attempts to communicate, and how that message my be relevant to our lives. I mean, isn't what I just described typical of most sermons? The preacher discusses the author, the historical setting, explains the message, applies the message to the listener's lives. Pretty much the same thing! You say that you are neither qualified nor equipped to lecture, but the skill sets involved in preaching and lecturing are not fundamentally different. When my pastor was training me in preaching, none of the skills he taught me were anything really new to me. He simply helped me learn how to adapt those skills to the preaching context. I really think that for some reason, whether consciously or unconsciously, you're trying to make it appear as if what you do and what I do are fundamentally different. It's really not. There's a difference in the practical application of what we do, sure. But in essence, we are both teachers, as it should be Biblically. In the only NT passage that uses the word Pastor, that term is linked with the word Teacher. As important as preaching is to the pastoral ministry--just like lecturing is important in the teaching profession--preaching is not the entirety of the pastoral ministry. Pastoral ministry is ultimately about teaching. [delete comment]
@Bill, thank you for your kind words in your last post and the other posts also! They were very much appreciated! [delete comment]
Bill I did not continue to harp on about your claim that you have been a Christian all your life. Firstly I pointed out the truth. You hold on to your assertion. Secondly I made clear that that I was not questioning your Christian faith and explained the reason for my interjection. You dismiss the suggestion that unbelievers might scan this forum. I believe that you might be very wrong in that. My exhortation to you to carry on lecturing was related to your profession. I believe that you are a lecturer. Is that incorrect? I certainly am certainly neither qualified or equipped to lecture. Am I qualified to preach? I strive to do what Paul exhorted Timothy to do, the work of an evangelist. I regret that you have taken offence. There was no intention to be condescending as your intellectual ability and educational qualifications obviously completely overshadow mine. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 12, 2013
@Dennis, hey, no problem! See, I'm not here to try to win some debate or to prove that I'm right at all costs! :) I understand that tone is an important part of communication, and I can see how the tone of this article could lead to a misunderstanding of the actual content. That's why my initial comments were focused on the content of the article, as well as on what could be legitimately inferred from the content and what could be mere preconceived ideas. And that's why my suggestion has been to move beyond the tone and the initial defensiveness, and evaluate the content on its own terms. That doesn't mean we have to agree with everything the author writes; but we also shouldn't put words in his mouth and then critique him for those words. I think the core substance of the article--that we shouldn't just talk TO people, but that we should talk WITH people, that we should engage them and connect with them, just like Jesus himself did--can certainly be a help to any preacher who desires to be faithful to God's calling and who is willing to take the idea and adapt it to his own ministry context. And if one has to dig through the some dirt (i.e. the tone, for some) to get to the gold, well, I think it's worth it. On a more personal note, I want to tell you personally that I do appreciate the work and effort that most pastors put into the preaching ministry. I have great respect for pastors. I have a wonderful friendship with the current pastor of our church, and I know how hard he works. So on behalf of many of us who listen to you (plural, as in all of you pastors!) preach each week, thank you very much for your work and for your dedication to the ministry. Know that your labor is not in vain, and that many of us pray for you pastors every day! God bless! [delete comment]
@ Bill says "@John, I will concede that the author does not paint preaching in a flattering light," and "Look, I know that the author's tone seems to be offending many of you. And I understand. Hey, if I were a pastor, and if I spent a significant amount of my time preparing and preaching sermons, I imagine I'd be tempted to get defensive, too!" Thank you for conceding that! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 11, 2013
@John, as to your other comment about you seeking grace to carry on preaching the Gospel in accordance with scripture's instruction, that is wonderful! No one--not the author nor I--has suggested you do otherwise. I will sincerely be praying for your preaching ministry. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 11, 2013
@John, although I meant it when I wrote that I took no offense at your comment that no one has been a Christian their whole life, but instead simply used the opportunity to clarify what I meant; I have to say that I am a bit offended by the condescension of your latest post. I don't know what you mean by your remark that I'm "good at lecturing." I haven't been lecturing at all, and the fact that you consider what I've been doing as lecturing only goes to prove that you are working under a completely different understanding of that word than that of the author or me. Surely that would explain why you would misunderstand the point of the article. The essential characteristic of a lecture--absent any derogatory connotations--is that it is primarily a one-way method of communication, with no meaningful interaction involved. That's not at all what I've been doing. I've been having conversations, mostly with Dennis, but also with you. A conversation, by definition, is NOT a lecture; because a conversation, by definition, is interactive. And I believe for the most part it has been a respectful conversation. I took no offense at anything Dennis said, and I certainly hope that he took not offense at what I wrote him. In fact, I made it a point to go out of my way to express how highly I think of him, so as to make sure that he understood that my comments to him were in no way intended to disparage his intelligence; and lest maybe it was interpreted by some as sarcasm, let me make it clear that I was completely sincere. I've debated with many people on this site--like you, kb, Michael, Mark--on a variety of issues, and Dennis regularly offers the most thought-out, articulate, and consistent posts in our conversations. So despite any disagreements we may have, I have nothing but respect for him. Likewise, I have meant no disrespect to you in anything I've written to you, and if maybe I came across as condescending, please accept my apology, and know that that was never my intention. In fact, the only one who's come across as disrespectful seems to be you. You have on various occasions criticized me for my desire to remain anonymous (although I'll give you credit for not having done so on this occasion). And even though Dennis agreed with your comment about no one being a Christian their whole life, once I explained what I meant, Dennis left it at that and moved on. You continued to harp on that point. And finally, you say that I'm "good at lecturing," which is offensive because a) I don't get the impression that you mean that as a compliment, and b) I HAVEN'T been lecturing! What's the deal? You were offended because the author describes preaching as lecturing, and I've defended the author, so in retaliation you're accusing ME of lecturing so that I'M offended? Is that it? Look, maybe I misunderstood you, and I sure hope I did. But given how dismissive of me you've been in the past, I can't be sure that I haven't misunderstood you! Is it because I'm not a pastor? Is it because you feel I don't belong here? Anyway, I DO hope that I misunderstood you; and if I did, please do me the courtesy of clarifying, because I would hate to think something of you that isn't true. But if you DID intend to be sarcastic and condescending, then I ask you, as a Christian, to show me the respect of offering an apology. I hope you don't just disappear from this conversation. I hope to hear your response. [delete comment]
Bill, carry on lecturing, you're good at it. I'll seek grace to carry on preaching the Gospel in accordance with scripture's instruction. May God bless you richly. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 10, 2013
@John, I will concede that the author does not paint preaching in a flattering light, which I believe unfortunately feeds into people's preconceived idea that the article is an attack on preaching. Having said that, the modern concept of preaching does fit the dictionary definition of a lecture: "a discourse given before an audience or class especially for instruction," according to Merriam-Webster. Of course, true biblical preaching is MORE than that. But the basic form that preaching typically takes is that of a lecture. It's one person standing in front of an audience teaching them about the Bible. Yes, it is a noble occupation, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a lecture! One can hardly fault the author for pointing that out! Nor can one fault the author for pointing out what many educators have been concluding for some time now, that the lecture is the least effective method of teaching. The point is that preachers need to do more than just stand in front of their congregations and talk to them about the Bible for 30-45 minutes each week if they want to connect with their listeners. Lecture by itself just isn't going to cut it. Preachers need to follow the example of the Master Preacher himself, Jesus, by finding ways to engage their listeners in a more tangible, interactive way. Look, I know that the author's tone seems to be offending many of you. And I understand. Hey, if I were a pastor, and if I spent a significant amount of my time preparing and preaching sermons, I imagine I'd be tempted to get defensive, too! But try to get past your initial defensiveness, try to get past the tone, and try to understand the actual point that is being made. You might discover it's actually a very good point. I mean, really! Why is it so hard to accept the idea that we should follow the example of Jesus by not just talking to our listeners, but engaging with them! As to your second point, don't worry. I didn't take your observation as intending to cast doubt on my personal faith in Jesus Christ. And you also don't have to worry about me spreading any "erroneous notions" from the pulpit. I've only begun preaching at my church a few years ago, and I usually only preach about one or twice a year--although my pastor has hinted that he'll probably start using me more often, so I ask that you all keep me in your prayers! And as to any unbelievers who may happen to read the posts on this forum...I really seriously doubt that! Of course, I don't know for a fact that there AREN'T any, so your point is taken. But I do know a lot of unbelievers, as students, fellow teachers, in my neighborhood, even in my family. And believe me, none of them have any interest in visiting a website about preaching, much less reading the comments section! Look, I said what I said, and I've explained why I said it. I've made it clear that I do not believe that being brought up in a Christian family, going to church from childhood and eventually becoming a member of a Christian church by nominal subscription makes one a Christian. If we're going to start subjecting everything we say in casual conversation to precise, theological scrutiny, well, casual conversation wouldn't be much fun anymore. I believe as you do regarding the doctrine of salvation, and if you and I ever discuss the doctrine of salvation, you will see my language change accordingly. For now, I have no problems saying that I've been a Christian my whole life (especially since I have taken up so much time to explain what I do and don't mean by that phrase), so if it's alright with you, I'll keep on using the phrase as I see fit. Have a great day! [delete comment]
If I may I would make two points. Firstly if we read the article carefully, it is clear that the writer equates preaching with lecturing, indeed "flat lecturing" whatever that means. This is a very poor equation and seems to indicate a failure to understand what the noble occupation of preaching the Gospel of the Risen Christ involves. Secondly, my observation about your statement Bill that you had been a Christian all your life was not intended to cast any doubt on your personal faith in Jesus Christ. When preaching we must guard against such erroneous notions because there are those who really believe that being brought up in a Christian family, going to church from childhood and eventually becoming a member of a Christian church by nominal subscription makes them Christians. This is deadly error and we must be aware that unbelievers may read the posts on this forum. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, oh not at all! :) You are worthy debate partner! As always, I have been stimulated by our conversation. Blessings to you, brother! [delete comment]
@Bill, sorry I exasperated you so badly! : ) [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, your post #52 was published as I was writing posts #53 and 54, so the latter were in response to your post #51. Following is my response to #52: No, he did not write, "Your missing my point." What he wrote was, "Don't overlook my central point." Clear implication, his central point was being overlooked, i.e., MISSED! For crying out loud, the impression I'm getting from you is that if he doesn't write things the way YOU think he should write them, then he doesn't mean the same thing that you do! You honestly believe that "Don't overlook my central point," means something FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT than "You missed my point"? Seriously?? Come on, brother, you're more intelligent than that! There are plenty of people on this site who hold various views similar to your own, and you blow a lot of them out of the water in your ability to articulate and defend your positions. I expect more from you than that! Hey, I agree, writers have a responsibility to communicate clearly. But readers ASLO have the responsibility to put in our own effort to understand a writer's point. Responsible reading is not for the intellectually lazy. We need to be willing to suspend for a moment our own understand of the meaning of certain terms, and allow an author to define his own terms. Look, this is what I think happened, with the caveat that this is simply my personal observation and I recognize I could be way off. But what I think happened is that you read the title of the article (which, again, may or may not have been provided by the author), immediately concluded before reading a single word of the article that it would be dismissive of preaching, and then interpreted the article in that context. Is that what happened? Well, only you and God know for sure. But that's sure how it looks like from my end. Look, man, when a writer tells you you missed his point, guess what? You missed his point. Big deal! It's not the end of the world. No one can be reasonably expected to understand every single thing he reads. Just move on. I don't understand why you have such a vested interest in insisting that you didn't misunderstand. Enjoy the rest of your day! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, now, substitute "preaching" for "discussing literature" and "mandate" for "job" and you have what I believe to be the essence of his point. Writing that preaching is not our mandate does not diminish the importance of preaching. It simply places preaching within it's larger, overall context (or "mandate" to use his language). The fact that preaching is not the WHOLE of ministry, that there are other things in addition to preaching that are also important and must be included with preaching--a point which you yourself have conceded--means that therefore there is a larger, more encompassing context in which preaching must be placed. That does not diminish the preaching ministry. On the contrary, placing it in that larger context magnifies the preaching ministry. Now, could the author have communicated his point more clearly? Sure. Writing is a tricky business. The moment you begin to set words on paper--or in this case, on the internet!--you open yourself up to the certainty that SOMEONE will misunderstand. So it is important for a writer to strive to be as clear as possible, in order to minimize, to the best of one's ability, that number of people who misunderstand. You're right, the majority of those who commented on this article appear to agree with your interpretation. But there are also a few others who have commented, like myself, who interpreted the article more in line with the author's self-stated central point:"If you wish to communicate and touch hearts, consider adding to your preaching the effective means that Jesus employed." Whatever gripe you may have about the clarity or non-clarity of the original article, this statement is as clear as you're going to get. It doesn't matter if that's not what you understood the article to say. It doesn't matter if you don't think the article stated that point clearly enough. THIS is what he meant to say, NOT what you've attributed to him. HE, better than you or I, knows what he meant to communicate. He's the one WROTE THE ARTICLE, for crying out loud. He should know! So, as I wrote in one of my first posts on this thread, one can legitimately argue about details, specific example he gave, etc. One can even legitimately argue that the language he used could open up the author to being misunderstood by some as minimizing the importance of preaching. Obviously, that's been the case on this thread. But what one CANNOT legitimately argue is that the author meant something that he didn't! Man, learn some humility, people! We are NOT God. We are NOT all-knowing. We do NOT know the author's intentions better than he knows them himself! When an author clearly says, "My main point was THIS," we have no basis on which to contradict and say, "No, you meant THAT." And any belief that we do is bordering on hubris! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, where does he SPECIFICALLY write that other things are more important than preaching. Where does he SPECIFICALLY write that preaching is NOT the priority? Where does he use that SPECIFIC language? Nowhere! He never writes that. Give me a quote directly from the article, and I'll recant; because I've combed through the article repeatedly, looking for that specific wording, and it's JUST NOT THERE! Those are conclusions that you are inferring, but his point is much more nuanced than you give him credit for. You're using faulty logic. Let me give you an example. Let's say I were to make the following statement: "My job is NOT to discuss works of literature with my students. My job is to educate my students in how to interpret works of literature for themselves." Using the same logic by which you interpret this article, you would conclude that I'm saying that discussing literature in class is not important, it's not a priority, other things are more important, etc. But I'm not saying ANYTHING like that. OF COURSE, discussing literature in class is important. Of course it's a priority. I can't accomplish my job of educating students without discussing literature in class. It would be impossible. But discussing literature in class by itself is NOT my job. You don't need a class for that. You can do that in a book club. And I didn't earn two Masters' degrees, and I'm not currently working on a PhD, in order to lead a book club! My job is NOT to lead a book club. My job is to be an EDUCATOR, a teacher. As much as discussing literature in class is a priority, I need to go ABOVE AND BEYOND that in order to accomplish my job. [delete comment]
@Bill, he didn't say in his #26 post, "I didn't mean that preaching wasn't important, that it is certainly a priority, and I didn't mean to say that preachers are not called." So I don't think he was saying, "Your missing my point." Again, maybe he needs to write with more clarity. When he says "you are not called to preach, your called to reach," how else can one read that? Someone called me to preach, and I hope that Someone wasn't me! [delete comment]
@Bill, what I mean is that the author is saying that the other things are more important than preaching. Yes he says to preach, but that preaching isn't the priority. My point is that preaching is the priority, and the other things are secondary. While you may believe we are saying the same thing in a different way I believe this is an important distinction. And I don't believe his clarification did anything to change that view. Again he says, "That may INCLUDE some preaching. But ultimately, we?re NOT called to preach. We?re called to reach." If the author wanted to make the point you believe he is making, then he should have written with more clarity what he was trying to say, because as you say, I'm not the only one who takes it this way. [delete comment]
Ola Ipindumi
April 9, 2013
I think to "preach"you need to "reach", preaching without reaching is like scattering the seed standing at one end of the farm and not actually putting the seeds into the ground. Even with the Internet age, not all preaching is reaching everybody. A preacher who has No Internet access can not reach beyond his community but if he does have internet, his preaching can reach further. Reach out so you can preach and when you preach make sure you are reaching out. God bless. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, hey, you are free to disagree with me all you want, it doesn't matter to me. It's not MY article! :) I do have to say, though, when an author--who KNOWS what he meant to communicate--tells someone directly, "You are missing my point," and that person responds by saying, "No I'm not; THIS is your point," and it's a different point than what the author says it is, that just seems a bit presumptuous to me. But that's between you and the author, I suppose! No one is saying preaching is not a priority. It's just simply not the larger, overall mandate, as THE AUTHOR defines the term. By the way, when you write: "Of course we are to do more than preach," THAT is what the author means when he says that preaching is not our Biblical mandate. His understanding of a Biblical mandate INCLUDES preaching, as well as those other things that are in addition to preaching that "of course we are to do." You both have in essence said the same thing, just using different words! I wish you a wonderful day! [delete comment]
@Bill, I think that we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I have read this article several times and I keep coming up with the same opinion. BTW, I never have or ever would say that we as preachers shouldn't be involved in our member's lives. I'm not saying it isn't important to live out our faith in front of them, help them in need, counsel them when they ask for it, cry with them when they are hurting, etc. Of course we are to do more than preach. But everything we do is based on our obedience to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. That is our priority. In fact, the reason the office of deacons was implemented was so that the apostles could give themselves to the Word and prayer, (Acts 6:1-4) [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 9, 2013
@Dennis, concerning comment #45, I agree with most of what you wrote. I agree that being born into a Christian family does not make one a Christian. But it did give me exposure to the Christian life and modeled it in such a way that, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I was willing to receive that life, by receiving Christ, once I was old enough to understand that decision. I agree that I was born a sinner, just like everyone else. When I wrote, " I've been a Christian my whole life," my purpose was not to make a precise, theological statement. It was simply to say, as I explained to John, that the Christian life is the only life I have ever known. And from the context of that Christian life, I've heard a lot of preaching in my forty-some years; which led me to the point of the original comment (#41). So rest assured, I believe as you and John do regarding salvation. Now, if you have Biblical objections to saying that you've been a Christian all your life, fine. Don't say it. But I personally don't have any problems saying so, in the way I have explained. Have a blessed day! [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 8, 2013
@Dennis, it is clear to me from our discussions on this forum during these last several months that you are an intelligent, educated, clear-thinking man. In fact, I often engage in conversation with you for that very reason. I don't like to waste time with people who don't know what they're talking about. There was a gentleman who posted on one of the videos on here about a month ago, who insisted on launching accusations against the video despite the fact that he admitted from his very first post that he had not even taken the two or three minutes to watch the video! This gentleman was so obstinate about speaking out of his ignorance that I gave up on the thread because it was a waste of my time. My point is that you do not strike me as that kind of person. And I do not question your ability to read with understanding. Having said that, no one, no matter how skilled a reader, is immune to misunderstanding. I certainly am not. There've been countless times in my classes when students have challenged me on certain points of interpretation in a work we're discussing, and sometimes they're right! I DID miss the point. And when that happens, I admit it, and change my critique of the work accordingly. I just happen to think that in this case, you have missed the author's point (and not just you, by the way, but apparently the majority of those who have commented as well!). First, let's lay aside the title. The published title is not always provided by the author. Sometimes, it comes from an editor, and sometimes their choice of title is not helpful. The point is we don't know if the title comes from the author or not, so there's no reason for getting hung up over that. What we do know is the content of the article itself. What I see you doing is taking some sentences and phrases, reading your own understanding into those sentences, and then drawing invalid inferences from that. Evidence for this is that no where does he write that there are other things more important than preaching, or that preaching is secondary. You have understood that as his point, but it isn't. His point is not that preaching is either unimportant or secondary. His point is that preaching is incomplete IF it does not connect the message to the listeners in a meaningful, engaging way. And he points to Christ's own ministry as the example. Remember what I wrote: Christ's ministry did not consist in preaching ONLY. He also taught and healed/performed miracles. Teaching and healing, along with actions such as washing his disciples' feet, is the way that he connected the message of the Gospel that he preached ("The Kingdom of God is at hand") to his listeners. Preaching, teaching, and healing together formed a part of Christ's larger, overall mandate. Now, the fact that Jesus also taught and healed did NOT make his preaching unimportant, less important, or secondary. All three were necessary, and none by themselves formed the entirety of Christ's mandate. Paul's instruction to Timothy that you quote makes the same point, if you keep reading the passage. Paul's mandate to Timothy was not limited to preaching alone, as the following verse gives him the charge also to "do the work of an evangelist." This is how I understood the article. You wrote that the author's rebuttal in the comment section did not do anything to change what he had already written. I agree, and I am certain it was not his intention to change what he had already written. I believe his intention was to CLARIFY what he had already written. By the way, when an author tells you directly, "No, you have misunderstood me," I'd take that seriously. One of the things I constantly emphasize in my classes is that you have no basis on which to disagree with an author until you are able first to state the author's premise in a such a way that the author could say, "Yes, that is what I mean." Only then does one have the right to disagree. [delete comment]
@Bill, BTW John E Miller is correct. NO ONE is born a Christian. John 1:12-13 "But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, NOT OF BLOOD, Nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Being born into a Christain family does NOT make anyone a Christian. You must repent and put you faith in what Jesus did for our redemption. You must call on Him and ask for His forgiveness and mercy. Now it sounds like this is what you did when you were nine. If so, great you are certainly a child of God. But it isn't at all biblically correct in any way to say "I've been a Christian my whole life," because you haven't. You were born a lost sinner just like everyone else, and you had to receive Him just like everyone else. [delete comment]
@Bill, I may not be a high school English teacher, but I can read what others write with understanding. First is the title of the artilce itself "You're Not Called To Preach" Really!!!!! What else does he mean? If he means something different then why don't you correct him for his title? The author wrote, "Then I wondered about his assertion of ?the mandate.? I told the audience that I didn?t conclude that ?the mandate? of scripture was to preach. Yes, Jesus instructed his disciples to go out and preach. But when I think of a ?mandate,? I think a little bigger. I?d consider scripture?s mandate to be something big, such as ?make disciples,? or ?help bring people into a growing relationship with Jesus,? or "accomplish Jesus? Great Commandments: love God, love people." Those are mandates with significant outcomes. And as faithful followers of Christ, we need to find effective ways to pursue those mandates. That may include some preaching. But ultimately, we?re not called to preach. We?re called to reach." Here he says the mandate of Scripture is not to preach. He says the mandate is something bigger than preaching. Then he says there are other things more important than preaching that will have more significant outcomes than preaching. And again he concludes in this excerpt that we are not called to preach, we are called to reach. His whole point is that preaching is secondary, other things are more important. It's like someone on here already pointed out, it's like coming up with an illustration, and then finding a verse of Scripture to use it on. Sorry, but his rebutal in comment 26 didn't do ANTYHING to change what he had already said! Preaching is paramount! Not secondary to anything! And we ARE CALLED TO PREACH! 2 Timothy 4:1-5 [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 8, 2013
@John, I think everyone, including the author, agrees that Jesus, the apostles, et al, preached; and no one is arguing otherwise. But anyone with even a casual exposure to the Bible can surely also agree that preaching was not the sum total of their ministries. Jesus did not only preach. The Bible is clear that he also taught and healed. His teaching and healing (as well as other miracles) were highly interactive and allowed the people to engage with the truth of the content of his preaching, namely, that the Kingdom of God was at hand. This article simply suggests that we follow Christ's own example. To be honest, I find it quite curious that the idea of following Christ's example of ministry should be met with such resistance among those who claim to preach God's word! Concerning Christ's miracles, that doesn't really have anything to do with the article, and I don't want to get side-tracked. But I would like to ask one question: If Jesus performed miracles only because He was and is the Son of God, and if these actions are not within our remit, how do you reconcile that claim with the entire book of Acts, in which the disciples clearly continue the pattern of Jesus' ministry in preaching, teaching AND, yes, healing and other miracles? Finally,"no one has ever been a Christian all his/her life." Well, you are free to believe whatever you want, of course. But I can assure you that I have. I was blessed to be born into a home where both my parents were committed to Christians. At home, as well as at church, the Christian life was modeled for me by both my blood family as well as my Church family. At the age of nine, I made a decision that this was the life I wanted for myself, and I was baptized as a disciple of Christ. The Christian life is the only one I have ever known, and I am fully committed to living it for as long as God grants me life on this earth, and for eternity in his Kingdom! Blessing to you! [delete comment]
My understanding of preaching is to take a portion or portions of God's inerrant word, read it and with the help of God's Holy Spirit search out and proclaim its message. That message must be centred on the Person of Christ, His death, resurrection and the imminence of His return. As far as I can discern this is the biblical pattern, employed by Jesus, His apostles and those that they taught. If a preacher thinks that he can improve on this by what is little more than entertainment he is treading on dangerous ground. Jesus performed miracles and did certain things because He was and is the Son of God. These actions are not within our remit, to put it bluntly. Incidentally, no one has ever been a Christian all his/her life. Bill. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 8, 2013
@Anonymous (#15), who wrote: "I also find it a bit reductionistic to equate preaching with 'lecture'. I think he is setting up a bit of a straw man on that one." I can only speak from my own experience; but I've been a Christian my whole life, and I'm in my late forties, now, so I've got quite a bit of years of experience listening to preaching. Don't get me wrong, I have been, and continue to be, blessed by preaching. And, like the author of the article, I have no desire to see preaching eliminated from the life of the church. But you cannot deny that if you walk into a typical church during their worship service and listen to the preaching, it meets the dictionary definition of "lecture:" "A discourse given before an audience or class especially for instruction," according to Merriam-Webster. In fact, on this website, preaching as lecture has been defended by some with whom I've had conversations. Of course, there is more to it than that. But at its essence, modern preaching is a Bible lecture. (As an aside, modern preaching is not necessarily what the Bible itself refers to as "preaching." Frank Viola has an interesting study on that theme in his book Pagan Christianity?) That it is a lecture is not bad, in an of itself. But the point of the article is that it is not complete, in and of itself. And it is not the entirety of the Scriptural mandate. There is a Harvard report which confirms what many of us educators (I'm a high school English Literature teacher), have suspected for some time now, that the lecture is the least effective method of teaching. I don't think the lecture will ever be (nor should be) eliminated as a pedagogical tool, just like no one here is saying we need to get rid of preaching. The lecture has its place. But the best educators will supplement lecturing with practical experiences and/or object lessons that will give students the opportunity to engage more fully with the material. Some may dismiss these experiences as "theatrics" or "bells and whistles;" to which I would replay, Have you never read the prophets?? For crying out loud, God had Hosea marry an adulterous woman and raise illegitimate children in order to show Israel how they were being unfaithful to God! Makes descending wooden pallets and smelly fish seem tame in comparison. The idea is thoroughly biblical. But the point is not about being outrageous or "the best show in town." The point is to connect with the listeners in a way that goes beyond just the intellect, and ultimately transforms their whole life. Like I told Dennis, don't get hung up on the examples. Smelly fish will not work in most churches, and are probably more likely to be a distraction. But surely preachers can find simple ways to connect the preaching content with the listeners in a more engaging way. [delete comment]
Bill Williams
April 8, 2013
@Dennis, I also read the article, several times in fact, because I wanted to make sure I understood it correctly. Additionally, I read through the all the comments and considered each perspective, including the author's own clarifying comments (#26). I'm sorry, I'm sure you did read the article, but I do think you misunderstood. At no time does the author suggest that the Holy Spirit doesn't work through preaching. At no time does the author suggest that preaching is not important. It appears to me that the reason for the disconnect is that when he writes that the "mandate" of Scripture is not to preach, he is using that term in a different way than what you and others who have commented would instinctively understand. Language is fluid, and at time writers will use a term in a specific way which may not be the same way in which one may be accustomed; and good reading skills demand that we allow an author to define his own terms in context before evaluating an argument. The way I understood it, and this seems to be confirmed by comment #26, is that preaching is included in the mandate of Scripture, but it is not the ENTIRETY of the mandate. I.e., preaching is used in accomplishing the mandate, but it is not the mandate itself. Preaching does not occur in a vacuum. The Word of God must be preached, but beyond that it must also be "incarnated," in the preacher's life first, as an example, and finally in the lives of those who hear. He offered some examples of how that may be done, but don't get hung up on those examples. They may not fit the context of your own church, and that's fine. Find something that WILL fit your context. The point is, when the author refers to a "mandate," he's thinking of something broader, more encompassing, than what I suspect you and others may have in mind; which, however, INCLUDES preaching as an important component, but does not stop there. Notice what the author wrote in comment #26: "consider ADDING to your preaching the effective means that Jesus employed." Notice what he did NOT say: "consider REPLACING your preaching with the effective means that Jesus employed." There is a significant difference between the two. Had he written the latter statement, your critique would've been valid, and I would have written in complete agreement with you. I think you would agree that when Paul charged Timothy to preach the word, he did not mean to imply that Timothy was ONLY to preaching the word, and nothing else. Rather preaching was a necessary part of an overall larger ministry; which in addition to preaching, also included, for example, doing the work of an evangelist, found in the verse immediately following where you ended the quote in comment #3. If you agree with this idea, then--although one could disagree on some of the details, implementation, etc.--I believe you would agree with the underlying premise of the article. [delete comment]
@Brian Lassiter, I certainly DID read the article! I stand by my comment in #3. You reread the article and tell me I did not understand that Thom said we do NOT have a mandate to preach! [delete comment]
Brian Lassiter
April 6, 2013
I have read all the comments. I am convinced that most of them come from people who did not actually read the article, just the title. If they had, they would get the understood "not JUST preach." One commenter said "We want to make sure that they are rejecting the gospel." Is that truly his belief as a preacher, that we should make sure everybody goes to hell? No, of course not - but that is exactly what he wrote. It is a great example of how your words can be quoted accurately and used against you. Just as we should never take scripture out of context, or allow it to be done, we should take the time to see what someone is really saying before jumping on. The world sees these things and remembers. They see loving, caring, and ministering and forget. Don't allow bad doctrine, but be sure you know what is actually being said and believed! [delete comment]
Moseis Rodriguez
April 6, 2013
Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" Mk. 16:15 I don't think that we need to be confused about how we are "reach" the lost, it's by preaching. The method one uses will always be culturally relevant.. [delete comment]
Tim Adams
April 6, 2013
Words have definitions; ideas have consequences; and our opinions, apart from Scripture, can be misleading. I would like to see if Mr. Schultz can support his position on preaching from God's Word. If he can, lets see him do it. If he cannot, his opinions are of little use. [delete comment]
Frank Gant
April 6, 2013
Why are theatrics needed to get God's word to the people? I'm called to preach and teach, not to be a director or actor. I believe God's word and the Holy Spirit are powerful enough to "reach" people without me have to put on a song and dance puppet show. [delete comment]
Gerald Graham
April 5, 2013
In John 6 Jesus points out to the people that they were coming to him for selfish reasons. Because he reached out to them and fed them. Then when the teaching gets really hard they abandon ship. I see this often in many churches as well. I also see that prophets of old faced the same problem. People didn't want to hear what they had to say. See Ezekiel and Jeremiah 6:10. Could it be that Jesus words are right before that the love of most is growing cold and hearts are becoming harder. Could it be that this isn't a preaching problem but a condition of man? Isn't responsiveness the work of the Holy Spirit anyway and not our own device? If people aren't responding could it be because we are doing some thing right? [delete comment]
We live in times where it is popular for religious writers and speakers to proclaim their visions and ministry views using church language rather than give healthy teaching of Scripture. Much of church literature and teaching today has religious sounding tones, indicating a lack of knowledge of the Bible and as well as lacking concern for the Apostle Paul?s instructions given in the ?Pastoral Epistles (Letters).? Paul writes, ?Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.? [delete comment]
Joseph William Rhoads
April 5, 2013
Thom, I understand your point. But you do not need to or should you contradict scripture in order to make your point. Preaching is mandated, as already stated by Dennis Cocks. Preaching is one of those "big things" like loving God, loving neighbors. Preaching is in part preparing believers for the work of the ministery. Preaching is part of the making disciples mandate. Be careful how you state your comments. [delete comment]
I'm as "contemporary" as anyone, and I agree we need to reach people, engage people, and have two way communication, but I don't think Jesus example tells us to alter preaching. His conversations usually occurred after he spoke to the larger group. There were some questions thrown at him while he preached, but usually those were challenges. We need to be careful about catering to our listeners who have learned to have no attention span, unless they get to have some say in the conversation. Preaching is about boldly proclaiming the truth of God's word, not having a conversation. Perhaps the problem is the mode of communication, its that we don't actually preach anymore. If a preacher is going up and just creatively laying out his opinion, then of course others are going to want to give there's as well. The best sermons, often don't generate discussion, they generate introspection, a reverent awe, repentance, and desire to follow what was just preached as if it came straight from God. Pastors preach the word boldly and shut the mouths of your listeners! If you love them they will listen. [delete comment]
William Kruppa
April 5, 2013
Although I think I understand your intention to let our conversation (behavior) be an example to those around us, the Bible both describes, and quotes Christ, preaching to the lost and we can infer the importance of preaching from that (from my limited knowledge of the Greek there are 134 times "preach" is used in the NT). In addition, the Bible is very clear in Romans 10:14 that without preaching they will not be saved...not without someone reaching out to them. [delete comment]
Lionel Morgan of Chalmers Mem. Arp
April 5, 2013
Lionel Morgan --Tell us He's not serious. It's not only stupid but totally unscriptural. Is it some new "political correctness"? Your little picture portrays/betrays him! [delete comment]
Lionel Morgan of Chalmers Mem. Arp
April 5, 2013
Lionel Morgan --Tell us He's not serious. It's not only stupid but totally unscriptural. Is it some new "political correctness"? Your little picture portrays/betrays him! [delete comment]
@Thom, your the one who said that we do not have a mandate to preach! The Bible says otherwise! [delete comment]
Thom Schultz
April 4, 2013
My friends, please don't overlook my central point. If you wish to communicate and touch hearts, consider adding to your preaching the effective means that Jesus employed. Again, "He engaged his people with memorable experiences and interaction. He involved people in colorful feats. He used fish and dirt and rocks and water to engage his people. He encouraged questions. He didn?t fear give-and-take interaction." [delete comment]
Tim Adams
April 4, 2013
One must take great care when taking a position against something so frequently mentioned in Scripture as essential. When Paul solemnly charges Timothy to preach the Word in every season, it is truly a mandate. It cannot be called anything else. The author begins with a straw man argument by equating preaching of the Word with flat lecture. Nobody has ever lauded Charles Spurgeon as the prince of flat lecturers. In addition, its a false dichotomy to say that we are not to preach, but to reach. Jesus was a preacher; as was Paul and rest of the apostles, save one (the betrayer). Through the centuries, the primary method God has used to reach the lost has been the faithful preaching of the Word. Mr. Schultz needs to reevaluate his position in light of the clear teaching of Scripture. [delete comment]

April 4, 2013
I guess most radical preachers/reachers can understand where you're coming from and where you're headed to with this thought provoking message. I think the church is so patterned after Rome and it's setting that somehow people still prefer the clergy/laity (learned/unlearned) setting where the expectations are the person doing the preaching ought to be the "know it all" and the listeners (if they're listening) are just expected to do just that...and act upon it if the conviction is strong. The church has come a far way from the way Jesus intended it to be, I feel. Sure the doctrinal teachings of the apostles are to be appreciated but we can only imagine what it was like back then in a usual house (church) setting, when everyone got involved, spoke to one another and learned from each other and "reached" each other. Let's no be insecure but challenge ourselve to follow the Master and reach as many, be it in preaching, teaching and even "reaching" people for God. If God's in it (the reaching) then that's what matters. [delete comment]
Brett Cushing
April 4, 2013
Thanks Thom, I appreciate your heart and your desire to be effective in preaching. I don't know if it is an either/or scenario, perhaps is preaching AND reaching. What I hear you saying is less about preaching or reaching, but more about fulfilling Christ's mandate to preach, while utilizing Christ's method of teaching. Jesus' teaching method was criticized then as it often is today. Thanks again for your commitment to be as effective as possible in your efforts to communicate the eternal truths of God entrusted to you. I am with you and strive to preach, teach and reach utilizing the methods of Jesus and thereby more effectively fulfill Jesus' mandate. [delete comment]
Catherine Stamps
April 4, 2013
Dont make more than what it is. He is saying reach out to people set the example, then your preaching will be more accepted. Most non believers, do not want to be preached at! Or even middle of confusion. So if you reach out first, You will have better acceptance. Ask me I know [delete comment]
Charles Yarbrough
April 4, 2013
I see by the bio information below the article that brother Thom is not a Preacher? [delete comment]
Kevin White
April 4, 2013
Wow. It's not about us fellow pastors. It is preaching the word in the power of the Spirit. Enough with the 'best show in town' mentality! [delete comment]
Kevin White
April 4, 2013
Wow. It's not about us fellow pastors. It is preaching the word in the power of the Spirit. Enough with the 'best show in town' mentality! [delete comment]
Gregg Higgins
April 4, 2013
I think that Thom makes some very valid points about effective communication. I think preaching is very important but we should always put forth our best effort for the Holy Spirit to work with. Yes God can use anything, but He called us because of who He created us to be. Though I will say that one of the most memorable messengers was Baalam's donkey... Let's choose to communicate God's truth in the most effective way possible and that may noy always be the easiest way for us. Blessings to all. [delete comment]
Charles Hargenrader of Elmira Nazarene
April 4, 2013
You can't be serious? [delete comment]
Kevin Wenker
April 4, 2013
What nonsense. The Bible says PREACH. Once more the unenlightened try to show off their lack of knowledge. [delete comment]

April 4, 2013
I love it when someone says something like Thom does, "Scripture says to preach, BUT..." It's like admitting that you are about to say something that goes completely against what the scripture just said. In fact, the NT is filled with admonitions to preach...specifically. Nowhere does it use the word "reach". That is the problem. Truly preaching the word means that some will be reached and that some will reject. Now, it is true we don't want people to reject because we are boring or pedantic. We want to make sure that they are rejecting the gospel. I also find it a bit reductionistic to equate preaching with "lecture". I think he is setting up a bit of a straw man on that one. [delete comment]
William Bray
April 4, 2013
I love to use all the tools available to us as pastors now day, but we must still rely on the Holy Spirit to move in the audience. And I don't care how fancy the "show" is, if the congregation don't get their hearts right upon entering they are going to find it's much harder to clearly hear the word of God, no matter how good the preaching is! Lets quit relying on self and depend more on the Holy Spirit! [delete comment]
Violet Ho
April 4, 2013
Thank you Thom. I truly felt the teaching from Jesus to love people in order for me to reach out to the people with my walk and talk. [delete comment]
Joey Kennedy
April 4, 2013
As a preacher/pastor it blows my mind when people undermined the preaching of the word of God. We must first understand that preaching is not just putting your thoughts together. Preaching God's word is vital. "Real" preaching is inspired by God and is lead by the Holy Ghost of God. Saying that we don't need preaching is saying we don't need to hear from God and that's rediculous ! So please Men Of God, keep PREACHING! [delete comment]
Tracy Mcintyre
April 4, 2013
We have all sat through sermons/lectures that lulled us to sleep and we've probably all done that to others. Of course we are called to Preach and there is nothing wrong with wanting to communicate in a way that is engaging and memorable and sticks in a way that leads folks to transformation. Ultimately, we have to rely on the power of the Word of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit, but we can do our part to be the best communicators we can be, without falling prey to mere human devices. I think it was a read worth being challenged by. Blessings - Tracy [delete comment]
Monty Thompson
April 4, 2013
It sounds to me like Thom elevates creativity, a clever visual, or an emotional story, above the Inspired word in order to "reach" people. We do have a mandate to "preach" the Word according to II Timothy 3:16 - 4:4. Its a bit like saying, "I have a great illustration or a cool power point for my message, now I need to find some scripture to go along with it"? Respectfully, I am called to preach in order to reach, not like sounding brass void of love, or like a heap of teachers to scratch itchy ears, but like the Master with grace and truth. [delete comment]
Nigel Black
April 4, 2013
This article isn't cool at all... [delete comment]
Mark Drinnenberg
April 4, 2013
I was going to point out 2 Timothy 4 as a clear mandate to preach, but Dennis beat me to it in comment #3. I am amazed and disheartened at the number of articles I see from people who speak critically and condescendingly about preaching and teaching the Word. I'm sorry if some other people seem to find it all so boring, but as for me, the preaching of the Word has had a huge impact on my life. I hope people who sit under my teaching catch a love for the Word the way I did from sitting under the teaching of my pastor years ago. Should we use metaphors and similes the way Jesus did? Of course. These help to create word pictures for people. But that doesn't eliminate the need for preaching. Good preaching will include those things, but in an age where there is already a famine of the Word of God, we err if we replace good preaching and teaching with those things. [delete comment]
Brian Lassiter
April 4, 2013
I believe the title was intended to provoke thought. Mission accomplished. [delete comment]
With respect, I wonder - "IF" I'm NOT called to preach, who was that voice that spoke to me in my spirit and said, "I want you to preach." I read your column which I think stirs us to be better communicators and challenges us to use creativity in our proclamation. However, I am afraid that the reason we have this discussion is because of the lack of 'hearing the call of God to preach.' I do not mean this as some 'spiritually superior' position, but honestly I would not be doing this if hadn't heard God's clear call. With a great deal of respect, God's call to me WAS and IS to PREACH. Other things I attempt to do help to validate the message people hear. But my personal testimony and call clearly came from God. [delete comment]
Though I always appreciate thought provoking articles, I have to wonder, if the vast majority of churches are under 100 in attendance, why do we always seem to get articles from people who minister in larger settings? Our folks don't need to smell dead fish, they attend one anothers family funerals, court proceeding and other stinky things. We are a family of families living out grace, mercy and love; supporting one another, encouraging one another, hanging in there with each other, even when our guy is clearly wrong, we are still there for them. What brings about this measure of philo for others? It is the 30 minute "flat lecture" given every Sunday morning and the listeners response to it. We can't afford all the "bells and whistles" we just share how Jesus has/can made/make a difference. It works here and I believe it works in the vast majority of congregations across the USA. Preach on people! [delete comment]
I'm also wondering if Sunday mornings are the only time you spend with your flock. If we are truly trying to REACH, shouldn't we be more than Sunday morning voices? If you aren't willing to spend time discipling, your preaching will fall on deaf ears because the flock doesn't know you. [delete comment]
2 Timothy 4:1-4 "I CHARGE thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and DOCTRINE. For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And shall turn away their ears from the TRUTH, and shall be turned to fables." I would call that a MANDATE! It amazes me to think how many people actually believe the Holy Spirit doesn't work through preaching! While I am certainly not against illustrations to help drive a point home, I am troubled at the growth of this movement that thinks preaching is not important. What America needs is more TRUE preaching, not less! [delete comment]
One more confusing voice from the know it all camp [delete comment]
Chuck Wysong
April 4, 2013
Thanks Thom! What I find interesting is I try to engage all the learning styles when I teach. I use object lessons, testimonies, panels, humor, videos, drama only to hear that I'm not going deep enough. People see the humor and immediately say that the teaching is shallow. I'm an old youth guy that learned along time ago when I'm trying to teach middle schoolers the last method is lecture. Communication is an amazing thing. Challenges me but I enjoy it. [delete comment]

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