Thursday, June 16, 2011

This and That

At breakfast with a friend this morning: Good times. We talked about a lot. One issue was the fact that Spurgeon, for all his acclaim, was not a particularly good model for preaching. In fact, no one should preach like Spurgeon.

Which reminds me there are a lot of ways to get the job done, and the fact that a way works does not mean we should emulate it. Work hard at studying and understanding the text. When it comes to delivery, listen and pay attention to a lot of people (particularly those known for their communication abilities). Then develop your own style rather than copying someone else.

We also talked about the politics in church and theological circles. It’s not just “fundamentalism” that plays politics. Evangelicalism does too. Neither should. A guy who can bring visibility and money does not deserve a place on the board for that reason. A guy who can bring students and money does not deserve a place on the chapel platform for that reason. I am sure that I will have neither. Which is usually fine with me. Until my pride rears up.

But I am also glad that no one sends me emails about what I do or where I go. No one questions who endorses my books. And I like that.

Listened to some preaching recently: It reminded me that cute alliterated outlines, modified sword drills (turn over here with me), stories of your experience, and attempts at vigor and fire are no substitute for actually explaining the text. Tell me to look at the verse and tell me what it means. Show me where what you are saying is what God said. Engage me by engaging the text. Tell me a story only if absolutely necessary to help me better understand.

Browsing through a library recently: Came across a book entitled Great Preaching on Patriotism. Seriously. Seriously? Why would we preach on patriotism? Do we not have something better? Along this line, I recently saw an American flag in a church prominently displayed. I wondered how those from other nations would respond to that. I wondered how those from our nation who are not particularly enthralled with what it does at times would respond to that.

Walking across a well-manicured place recently: Reminds me that first impressions matter. Things looking good and being well-cared for are always better than the opposite. Our grounds and facilities should look at nice as we can make them. And by all means, be nice to people. In your organization, everyone should speak to or at least smile at every single person they see. It makes a difference.


Mark Ward said...


Your comments about Spurgeon make me nauseated. What right do you have to decided whether Spurgeon was a good preacher or not? Obviously, the Lord used him - as thousands were saved under his ministry.

You and I would probably agree that expository preaching is what is needed today. But, give me a break, Spurgeon? I don't like a lot of type of preaching today. But, I'm careful not to criticize preaching styles. God can use anyone, with any style, to get the gospel message out.

Calvinists tend to be very opinionated about their stand and their style - and, certainly, you fit the mold very well. We live in a day where 'intellectualism' and a 'Reformed approach to everything' is killing our churches and damaging Holy Spirit unction from on high. I know you disagree, but so what!

May God help us.

Larry said...

Wow .. Mark. Are you sure you're not a Calvinist? Because that was pretty opinionated about your stand.

I don't think my comments about Spurgeon are particularly controversial. Jumping from text to text week after week, lifting verses, and even phrases and words, out of context, is not a particularly good way to preach. And it's not a model of preaching we should copy or teach. Does anyone really dispute that?

But as I said, he got the job done. You agree with me on that. So did Billy Graham, John Calvin, George Whitefield, the Wesley's, etc.

The fact that God may use something does not mean it is right to do. It does not mean we should teach someone to do that.

If we are going to have a high view of Scripture, then that must extend to our preaching.

I am against intellectualism and a "Reformed approach to everything" that kills our churches (though I confess to not knowing for sure what you mean by "Holy Spirit unction from on high").

I am against anything (including the use of illustrations, the selection of topics, yelling and ranting, or anything else) that takes away from the simple demonstration of the Spirit's power in persuasion (1 Cor 2).

I think for too long fundamentalists have accepted bad models of preaching that appeal to man's will and emotion through the use of stories, voice inflection, etc rather than through the Scripture simply explained and applied.