Modern American Spirituality
Someone told me the other day that they were tired of preaching, or ´being reached at.´ Recently I heard a Christian say, ´We don’t need more preaching.´Then, I read an email from someone telling me that their group meetings didn’t include preaching: “People don’t want to be preached at.”
Interesting. Here I am in Brasil and they are begging for more preaching! They can worship for hours and still sit still for two or three hours of preaching and ministry. Hungry for more. “Please don’t stop!”
So, I´m analyzing why many modern Americans would rather watch a talk show than preaching, why they seem to be convinced that preaching is outdated as a strategy for the communication of truth and Gospel. Like a few other particularly Biblical ideas, preaching seems to have become, at best, ´take or leave it.´
Teaching and Preaching
The difference between teaching and preaching is simply demanding a decision, confronting people with Truth and charging them to change at the moment of presentation. Gospel announcements simply demand that because of what has been communicated people cannot live, think, breath, or behave the same anymore. They must decide what to do with the revelation.
Perhaps this is why modern Americans dislike preaching. Preaching is a proclamation of good news, and the preaching of the Bible presents this proclamation in a way that convinces and convicts. The preaching of the apostles and early church got them thrown into prison, stoned to death, and run out of town. They preached anyway – in fact, they prayed for greater boldness to preach with the demonstration of God´s power that would force people to do something with the revelation.
Preaching represent God´s ´serious about this´side. Gospel preaching should demonstrate spiritual power. At the least it should demonstrate the power of Holy Spirit to convince so that the response of people listening is decisive. Revival or riot, or both! Preaching does not need to be formal to accomplish this and can be done one-o-one. Preaching and teaching are different and both should be authoritative.
Witness and Preaching
We have altered the concept of witness a bit to accomodate our penchant for trivializing essentials. Testimony and witness are not the same thing. To go ´witnessing´does not mean giving your testimony. Testimony is valid, but it does not substitute for preaching. The ones chosen to be witnesses were chosen to be preachers. The announcement the realities they personally experienced and demanded that because these realities were true, men should henceforth live differently because they believe differently. We doñ´t preach about something. We preach something.
The authority of preaching comes from this reality experienced that can be demonstrated through spiritual power. Preaching about something is not powerful or authoritative. It is inconsistent with God´s strategy for preaching. When we define preaching about something as normal, we begin talking about presentations of truth as if truth by itself, spiritual information without spiritual power, is enough. Not in God´s mind!
Preaching and power are one and the same. Preach what you have experienced or you are not a witness but a mouthpiece. Preaching so people who hear experience power or you are the Convincer, not Holy Spirit! Preaching should make you some really good friends and really ugly enemies! Not because you desire enemies but because power demands change. (Some folks don´t want to change.)
Whatever forum or model of ministry God is establishing, preaching should be part of the strategy. So, we need a new generation of preaching leaders. When we changed the strategy from demonstration of power to presentation of ideas, we became truth negotiators instead of truth convincers. Miracles, signs, and wonders were part of the strategy of Gospel presentation because God wants people convinced of His power, not our accuracy and finesse.
Jesus said what He said was obviously true because of the power demonstrated in His life. Is there anything so undeniable in your life that the only defense against your witness is to beat you to death?