It remains a convoluted line, the edges blurred, and the lens of correction panning in and out, creating a false perception of understanding. What am I speaking of? The line between teaching and preaching. Does anyone have an adequate answer to the fundamental difference between the two? Everyone seems to have their own personal jargon to explain the difference. However, regardless of catchy slogans, the last ten years within the church culture has seen a pendulum swing seeking to find a balance between the two.
Many preachers, once known to figuratively “breath fire” from the pulpits, sweat dripping from their reddened faces, and their body language a mixture of what appeared to be choreographed miming and a grand-mal seizure, are now seen on the edge of wooden bar stools, immaculately trimmed beards and goatees cutting the contours of their faces, and a look of serene, tranquil happiness to match their new delivery of an advanced, relative Gospel.
First, and this is an important distinctive to recognize, when did the paradigm shift seeking to realign the Gospel with a more hands-on approach of what is called “teaching” require a physical face-lift? Deny this all you want, but the trend of the hour is that the Gospel message requires both a cosmetic change (physical change of the communicator) and a change in elocution (the way the message is delivered).
The trend is startling, to say the least, and it reveals the confusion that is permeating the church culture. Often times, especially in conversations with men that are seeking a more balanced approach to delivering the Gospel (btw, who sets the benchmark of balance?), I find that these men are undergoing radical changes in themselves as well. These men seem to be grasping for a Christocentric model to pattern their ministries after but, on the proverbial “other-side of the coin”, they are diminishing the Apostolic model found after the birth of the church, marked by a red-hot, fiery declaration of doctrine and truth, undergird by an evident and active, Pnéuma tou Theoú; Spirit of God.
What is the cause for this confusion? I will submit that the answer lies in something God spoke to me over two years ago, which I have mentioned several time in recent weeks. We are becoming a culture that is seeking to “direct the wind” whereas the directive of God was that we “preach the word.” Let’s take a step deeper into this undesirable subject.
Without diminishing the need for true, Biblical preaching (and we’ve yet to define this idea), one can easily see the human corruption that touches what we call preaching. The goal of preaching, regardless of the communicator, is to mandate a verdict. Any preacher worth anything preaches to produce a response from the recipients of the intended word. In the world of Biblical theology, we would call this “conversion.” Without question, the honest and true preacher seeks to produce a change in his audience. However, we not only seek to produce a change, but we seek a radical change! We want to be the instrument that produces an explosive, epic change in the lives of our hearers.
Because of this, and herein is a moment of great honesty, preaching can get caught up in a destructive vortex of response-oriented antics. How many times (and I will use myself as the example) have I been more focused on the physical response of the people, to the point that it has become detrimental to the direction of God’s purpose? In other words, how many times has my personality, energy, and passion directed or elicited an “emotional response” that produced momentary expression, lacking long-term results? How many sermons are we preaching (and we still have yet to define this term) where no fundamental difference has been made in the lives of our listeners? I am aware that I am pushing upstream at this moment, fighting the current of cultural norms. But unless we identify one of the problems, we will never address the cancerous changes that are infecting so many “well-intentioned” men!
We need to revisit a balanced model of preaching and teaching! Why? Because, as God challenged me, we are spending more time trying to “direct the wind” than we are “preaching the word!” Until we address the misconceptions and explore the fallacies of certain man-made models, we will continue to see a steady stream of men and women get swept away by diluted, uninformed, and diminished systems of Gospel expression.
Mind you, this doesn’t diminish the nature of those who “have not a love for the truth,” but we would be foolish to ignore that today’s culture (especially the millennial generation) is desperately seeking to connect to a powerful culture of truth that goes beyond the outward expressions of “church culture and worship” alone. We are living in a generation that has seen a sudden spike in philosophy and the many realms that fall under its genre. We are living in a culture that is seeking to delve deeper into the cosmic absolutes of divine directive.
Why has the Jewish culture been so remarkably successful in maintaining both familial and social systems? They are a culture that has built their families and societies around a systematic model of Torah scholarship. In other words, (and we will delve into this in part 2), they are a community that has embraced a Biblical model of communicating truth which has survived generations of hardship, struggle, and attempted genocide.
I would be curious, in the time it takes to move into the primary idea of this treatise, what is your take on this issue? Do you agree thus far with what has been said? If not, why? Don’t worry…we will take a Biblical approach to addressing this issue…stay “tuned”!