Are conversations about Jesus better than preaching?
I’ve noticed a growing trend among many in the church (especially evident on Christian blogs) regarding “preaching”. It seems that “conversations” are all the rage now, and preaching is out! We’re called to “join the conversation”, but who wants to sit and listen to the preacher? Is there still a place for preaching in the church?
I find it strange that people would question the idea of preaching, as if to say it was useless or even unbiblical. Aren’t we commanded in scripture to “preach the Word”? (2 Timothy 4.2).
I’ve always understood that the meaning here is one of making a proclamation; that we are to be heralds for Christ. When I think of a herald, I think of someone who declares a message. That implies a monologue, not a dialogue. Questions and discussions may follow, but first a message is declared. In fact, I remember reading Wuest’s Greek translation many years ago concerning this subject, and here it is:
“Make a public proclamation of the Word with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be heeded…” (2 Timothy 4.2)
That sounds like preaching to me! As I continue in the passage, I can see how preaching would lead to discussion and further exhortation. (Which I’m all for, by the way.) I guess my point is, why throw the baby out with the bathwater? Preaching and discussion are both biblical, and both are needed in the church.
I believe the present “anti preaching” bias that is present in so many who are questioning the traditional church structure is simply a reaction to not having been allowed any type of discussion in our gatherings. As is so often the case, the pendulum then swings to the far extreme and we end up having the opposite problem! I see the same thing happening regarding “leadership” in the church. (See my post, “Leaderless Church“.) Christians who have felt that they were oppressed by leaders, leave the traditional churches and opt for a leaderless church. This type of reaction will never produce the right results; we simply exchange one lopsided form with another.
One reason given for not liking preaching- “I can’t remember a single sermon I’ve ever heard.” Really? Is there so little impact from the preaching of God’s Word? God has many tools at his disposal, and one of the best is preaching. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit I’ve been arrested by preaching throughout my entire life as a Christian! Preaching that came from a pulpit, a car radio, a book, a song, or a friend… I’ve been challenged and changed by preaching.
For the record, I love discussion as well. I think it’s invaluable, but I’m not buying into the anti preaching sentiment that seems so prevalent today.