Saving Preaching from its Bad Rap

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry1 Comment

Liberate is one of my favorite sites on the planet. It is regularly pumping out the best reflection on life’s most important subject: the law-gospel paradigm. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or if you don’t think that something as odd-sounding as “the law-gospel paradigm” should be afforded such high accolades, well, you haven’t been reading Liberate, or you haven’t been reading it enough. A huge shot in the arm would be to come to the Liberate 2014 Conference in February…but that’s not really what I’m here to talk about right now.

Worship leaders should care about preaching. They are tasked with oversight of the local church’s worship service, and the sermon is a big, indespensible part of what worship is all about. Nick Lannon has written a fabulous post over at Liberate on preaching, which has fallen on hard times, much to the Holy Spirit’s chagrin. Excerpts:

Phrases like, “don’t preach at me,” or “I didn’t like that movie; it was so preachy” shine a light on the redefinition of the word: “to preach,” in common parlance, now means “to judge” or “to criticize.” …

Consider another Christian-ese vocabulary word: “convict.” When we want to praise an especially moving sermon, one that really showed us the difference between who we are and who we ought to be, and has given us a renewed fire to bridge that gap, we say things like, “Oh, what a wonderful sermon; I feel so convicted.” “Thank you, pastor, for your words this morning. They really convicted me.” …When has anyone outside a church ever heard the word “convicted” and smiled? It has never happened. The conviction comes at the end of the trial and means that the accused is about to receive his punishment! The accused could only reasonably smile if he was pardoned!

A proper sermon, a true proclamation of law and gospel, should convict at the beginning and pardon at the end.

This is SO true. “Preach” should be a word that sounds like freedom to our ears (and to our culture’s ears), but instead it has gained the exact opposite reputation. This is going to probably sound brash and arrogant, but evangelical preaching, by and large, is in need of a huge overhaul, and asking the basic question, “Do people leave the sermon relieved or burdened?”, is one of the most concise ways to evaluate whether Christ and His Gospel are truly being preached.


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