Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Directions in Preaching (3)

I have decided to use three headings under which to organize material for these lectures: the WHAT we preach, the HOW we preach and the WHICH we preach. I know it sounds rather clumsy, but hopefully it will stimulate the preachers.

The WHAT relates to the content of our preaching. Sadly, in culture change, it is possible to compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ by both omission and commission. But, I shall focus on the way much 'modern' preaching tended to boil down the gospel to a personal response to Jesus Christ. Salvation was often so stressed as personal commitment so that it was in danger of becoming an entirely personal matter. Few corporate implications of salvation into Christ and his new creation were sounded out. This meant that individual believers tended to look back to Christ's work on the cross as his only work for us, without a continuing experience of him as Intercessor, with the Holy Spirit at work in our lives today. I have certainly heard sermons ending with 'to do lists' that seemed to leave it all up to me!

Another danger of this sharply individualistic gospel is its neglect of the big story of God's purpose in creation - from creation to the final triumph of Christ's reign. Too often, hearers have been left with the impression that they can fit God into their own stories, rather than the other way round!

If it is true that one main cultural trend moves 'from focusing on the individual to recognize the community of faith' (see last post), does this not give wonderful fresh opportunity to proclaim the corporate aspects of salvation in Christ? That we do belong within a new community living in different ways for different purposes! I believe preachers should seize this opportunity with both hands!

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