Preaching Mythology

Posted: April 21, 2012 in church, leadership, worship

“[There is a] developing mythology that preaching the gospel is very difficult and that there are only a couple of dozen people in the entire United States who are any good at it.   To quote Gershwin, it ain’t necessarily so.   If it were, Paul would surely have told us.  In fact, he pours scorn on the Corinthian church’s fascination with orators; what he requires of ministers is that they be competent to teach.  That necessarily means they must be able to express themselves clearly and with conviction; but it does not mean they need the rhetorical skills of Winston Churchill or the brilliant classroom presence of Richard Feynman. …

There are those pastors who will say ‘Well, if we plant a church but I am not the regular preacher, people have told me that they will not come.’  That may well be true but it begs a follow-up question: does that not indicate a serious problem in the heart of the people?  That pastor needs to call those people to repentance: it is not the man, it is the message which is meant to feed their souls. … Good preaching may be at a premium; but that still does not make it either rocket science or infused Gnostic knowledge given only to a few of the chosen.

– Carl Trueman, “Multisite, the Poker Tell and the Importance of Presence”

We, the American church, must diligently ask ourselves this question, and then answer honestly, each and every time we listen to the preached Word of God: “Are we compelled by the Gospel or are we fascinated with an orator?”

  1. Adam says:

    I struggle with the word preaching biblically is not teaching the church. But sharing the gospel. We need to stop worrying about the few preachers there and worry that the people of god do not think it is their job to share the gospel with words.

    • Matt Tully says:

      I agree that the word “preaching” (κηρύσσω) is often used in relation to evangelistic proclamation of the Gospel, but I’m not sure a hard and fast distinction can be made across the whole of the NT. For example, Paul’s words in 2 Tim. 4:1-5 seem to relate to Gospel-instruction both within and outside of the church.

      Furthermore, I agree with your (implied) concern that the church sometimes neglects its responsibility to truly make disciples in its overemphasis on formalized preaching. Part of this discipleship is undoubtedly encouraging and equipping God’s people to “share the gospel with words,” not just invite unbelievers to “church”.

      So, all that to say, I agree with you (I think), although I wouldn’t want to demean formalized preaching, as I believe it to be a biblically-viable and largely effective form of Word-ministry in the church (believe it or not, this exact issue has been my main area of study here at Wheaton…we should chat sometime).

      – Matt

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