Without question (and I recommend reading the first part of this series), the church culture has begun to see the desire of men seeking to find a balance in how the truth is being communicated. However, in this pursuit of what I consider “evangelistic elocution” we are seeing tremendous shifts; the pendulum swinging too far one direction. As I stated in the first series regarding teaching and preaching:
The last ten years within the church culture has seen a pendulum swing seeking to find a balance between the two. 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.
What is happening? Why has the pendulum swung so drastically to the other side, forsaking any degree of balance altogether? It is startling, to say the least, that we are observing such radical shifts among those who once held the title as “our greatest preachers.” Many of these men are barely recognizable today because their “eye-opening experiences” have demanded a rebranding of the Gospel. What do I mean by this? Men have decided (and I wish I knew what their benchmark for these charges were, because it is not a Biblical paradigm) that the effectiveness of the Gospel message must come with an entirely different approach and image. These men, either by articulation or by cosmetic means, are positing that the Gospel must look and sound a certain way. While we could bog down on the rebranded “look” this often takes, it is the second aspect I wish to spend more time on; the rebranded “sound.”
What is the Gospel to “sound” like? What does truth “sound” like? Is there a certain pitch, volume, or tone the Gospel should be administered? Well, according to many of these rebranded men, yes! With their redesigned images comes a newfound approach to evangelistic elocution. The Gospel, they purport, must have a certain sound. Roll your eyes, diminish their arguments, or push it into the backseat of contemporary issues, it doesn’t change the trend that is sweeping through the church culture. This is a big deal!
I can speak personally of several conversations I have had with several different preachers/ministers as it relates to perceptions of Biblical communication. We are about to crest a wave in generational transition where the voice of dissent in regards to the delivery of truth is becoming an alarming trend. What do I mean by this? Let me explain.
First, to properly set the tone for where we need to go, let me begin by defining the word “abuse.” Abuse (as a noun), according to most reputable dictionaries, is “the improper use of something.” Therefore, the action (verb) of the word is to “use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose, i.e., misuse. Let me emphatically articulate that anything in life is susceptible to misuse, or in this case, abuse.
A judge can abuse the power that he/she has been given in order to secure his/her ethical or political positions. A police officer can abuse the framework of law and order by administering force or energy that does not fall under the confines of “to protect and to serve.” In fact, almost any public office carrying any degree of authority comes with an “oath of office.” For the President of the United States, regardless of political viewpoints, they are to express the following:
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Regardless of one’s position in life, practically every public office carries with it an oath of office. What does that oath seek to do? It seeks to derail “abuse of office.” It seeks to create ethical and moral guardrails because even fallen humanity understands the base nature of itself; corrupt and fallen! Does this mean that an abuse of power will never happen? Hardly! Every single day we are experiencing or observing the abuse of power.
Once again, it is important to understand that anything in life is susceptible to abuse! Prescription drugs, vehicles, money, technology, authority…you name it, and it is susceptible to abuse! This brings me to my primary and fundamental point; abuse occurs and happens within the realm of the church economy.
There, I said it! Yes, all you whose breath intakes sharply, eyes wide with horror, aghast at the possibility of men abusing Biblical privilege, authority, and office. Yes, it does happen…it happens quite a bit. However, before I go any further, does one erase the need for jurisprudence because of corrupt judges? Does one obliterate all schools of medicine because of corrupt, negligent doctors? No! So before anyone reading this seeks to extricate themselves from the dilemma of having severed themselves from Biblical authority, fellowship, and instruction; stop, the foundation you have built your house of justification on is made of sand.
God’s economy, if it involves man, will always be susceptible to abuse. Abuse will happen, does happen, and is happening! Close look at scripture reveals that even Christian liberty can, and is, abused! (See Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians). So with that fundamental understating clearly stated, where does this fit into the realm of communicating the truth? Simple; the pulpit has been abused as well.
Going back to some of the conversations I have had with several ministers in recent years, this has been one of the trending issues many are having. It goes back to my initial challenge from God in which He impressed on me to “stop trying to direct the wind and preach the Word.”
Can I speak candidly? If I was at the table of defense before God as the prosecutor, judge, and jury, I would have been guilty of “pulpit abuse.” Yes, pulpit abuse! Why do I say that? Well, if I am using the pulpit as a platform of manipulation rather than Godly impartation and instruction, I am abusing the purpose of the pulpit. Yes, if I posit an agenda that propagates “self” above Him, I am guilty of pulpit abuse.
I have observed and experienced several occasions where the efforts of man to “direct the wind” (some intentional, others just misguided) resulted in the frenetic expressions of well-intentioned congregations. Thirty-minutes later and sweat-dampened clothes, hoarse voices, and exhausted saints; nothing broke, no lives were changed, and the service was relegated to “beast-mode” status. Mind you, I’m not taking away from those times we “need” to kick the lid off of compressed ritualism!
Where does this fit in to the conversation at hand, Communicating the Truth? Well, it falls down to the issue, aside from deception and doctrine, that is causing a lot of internal reflection (sometimes fatal). A lot of men are questioning elocution! A lot of good men are wondering, “are we doing this right?” One thing that is becoming a topic of discussion today is the crucial need of Biblical teaching. What is really being expressed here? We are realizing, to some degree, that our present paradigms of communication are not achieving the “long-term” results we have been praying for. We are realizing, much like vitamin deficiency in the body, that the Body of Christ is showing visible signs of nutritional weakness.
In other words, we are desperately seeking a way to more effectively communicate the truth in such a way that long-term, sustainable results are achieved. I am extremely optimistic in this regards, because I am observing a focused effort by some tremendous men to discover (not reinvent) ways of communicating the truth more effectively. This is where the next part comes in…I urge you to begin to study the Biblical paradigms of “teaching” and “preaching.” Also, for homework…look into the Tower of Babel. What could you say was the one thing that caused a failure in completion of the Tower? This we will pick up in part 3….