Friday, February 22, 2008

A Hypocrite's Guide to Preaching

Michael McKinley has a good post at the 9 Marks blog called "A Hypocrite's Guide to Preaching." Here's the 5-point guide:

1. We are all hypocrites to some degree or another. None of us have attained perfection in any of the things we must preach about. But there's a line that shouldn't be crossed... if the gap between your words and your life is too great, you shouldn't be preaching at all. We need people in our lives who can help us think through these things so that we're not at the mercy of an overly tender or calloused conscience.

2. Systematic expositional preaching of Scripture is well-suited to preachers who are also sinners. It serves as a check against our natural tendency to focus on things that we do well and avoid areas where we struggle.

3. Your weakness highlights the power of God's word. There are only four reasons that people would want to listen to anything you have to say:

a. You're brilliant and holy (or at least you've convinced them you are).
b. They don't want to but they are too lazy to go somewhere else.
c. They are forced to listen as a condition of their parole.
d. You are telling them what God says in His Word.

Let's face it, you're not (a) and you don't want to be (b). When you feed your people a diet of God's Word and they learn to trust you to teach it to them faithfully they will listen on His authority, not yours.

4. We should take opportunities to acknowledge our own failures and limitations before the congregation when appropriate. If all of your children are under 5 years old and you are preaching on Ephesians 6:4, you should be willing to acknowledge that your personal experience is still somewhat limited. Then you can remind the congregation that the authority comes from God's Word, not from your personal experience. This approach models humility for your people and will (ironically, perhaps) cause them to trust you more.

And finally,

5. Since you're a hypocrite, every sermon should begin with your own heart. You shouldn't preach it to others until you've preached it to yourself. You can assume that you need to hear God's Word just as badly as the people in your congregation. Beware allowing a bifurcation between what you feel passionately in the pulpit and what you live in your day-to-day walk.

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