Thursday, April 14, 2011

Preaching Truism (5)

I am not sure how many more of my ideas about preaching justify being called truisms: “self-evident truths”! I have a few other suggestions but sense they may be straying into needlessly provocative territory. For example, a gifted preacher commented that it is a self-evident truth that most pastors do not welcome other effective preachers into their pulpits. He is an itinerant preacher and says his main opportunities only happen during interim periods!

However, I am sure that at least one more deserves mention: 5) Preaching always has needy hearers. By needy, I mean that preachers should first recognize that some listeners need to hear the good news of the gospel (some perhaps for the first time). Richard Baxter’s plea sounds out urgently: “Preach as dying man to dying men.” Preachers should beware of trivial pursuits.

But also some listeners come with deep troubles needing comfort. Wrote William Barclay: “Whoever else will be at the service, there will be someone with a broken heart.” He goes on to remind us that the Greek word for comfort also means encourage and he commends the Moffatt translation of John 4:4 when Eliphaz says to Job: “Your words have kept men on their feet.” As he says: “In any service there should be that word of comfort which will keep men and women on their feet!”

Preaching always has needy hearers.

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