Wednesday, September 27, 2006

is "preaching" relevant?

This Sunday @ Faith Church we did something pretty unique in our worship services. Normally I try to take a topic or passage of Scripture and explore all the implications and provide life applications from the truth of God’s Word.

However, Thursday afternoon of last week I felt the distinct leading that we were to do something different this Sunday. In relation to the finish of our series “Better Together” and the Pledge that we are taking with one another (2 posts below)…we looked at 3 detailed passages of Scripture that have very specific instructions on how to deal with conflict, forgiveness, confrontation and giving grace and mercy to others. And instead of me doing the teaching, we allowed everyone to meditate for about 4 minutes (a piece) on each passage. We were to write out the main principle of the passage and then listen for direction from God in terms of how to carry out those principles in our lives.

It turned out to be a beautiful time of meditation. For many (new to exploring the Scriptures for themselves) it was an enlightening experience to really dive into a passage and chew on it without getting interpretation from some outside source. We finished with communion, and it was an experience that I will forever remember.

But it got me to thinking, why do we need to have preaching and teaching? The Word of God is available to everyone. Is my role even necessary (as a “middle man”) in communicating the truths of Scripture?

And YET the Bible says that there is something mysterious and powerful about a man or woman who stands before a crowd “preaching” (even as outdated as it might seem). At Faith we even intentionally avoid the word “preaching” because it has such negative connotations in our society. To “preach AT” somebody is not generally viewed as a positive thing. So we use the words “teaching” or “speaking” or “giving a message”.

But whatever you call it…there is still something powerful about this ancient form of communication. When I sit and listen to a gifted communicator (under the direction of the Spirit)…it can still rock my world and open me up to new and life-changing truths.

The following words are aimed more directly at missionary endeavors, but the preaching/teaching/speaking principle of power still applies:

(Romans 10:14-17) “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

I guess those of us who feel it our calling won’t be out of a job anytime soon.