Preaching With Passion

Preaching With Passion

Preaching is back in vogue again (at least in certain circles). I remember a college lecturer from 10 years ago telling me that the time of ‘expository preaching’ was at an end and ‘thematic narratives’ would usher in a new era of pulpit ministry within the church. Sounds a bit like a strap line for a sort of preaching ‘Lord of the Rings’ now I come to think about it. I laughed at him then and I am still laughing now.

There are all sorts of organisations and colleges and courses doing the rounds in the UK which deal with the whole topic of expository preaching. There are some great books out there (I will get around to reviewing some soon) and there are some great things to be learned online from good practitioners such as Dick Lucas and Stuart Olyott in the UK and Tim Keller in the USA. Everybody has their favourites but I pick those three as distinct in terms of expository ministry. Guys like Matt Chandler, Driscoll and the new ‘cool’ brigade are great communicators but I wouldn’t class them as ‘expositors’. One thing all of these men have in common though is passion. And they have it in buckets.

Lot’s of men I hear and see in the UK are ‘sound’ but they are dull. They say and do nothing wrong but they lack real, heartfelt conviction. I am passionate about this lack of passion in our pulpits. Surely, it can’t all be down to culture can it? Working on an estate like Niddrie let me tell you straight away that generally people don’t care if you have the structure right and the context nailed (important by the way) but ‘do you believe it’? Do you deep down in your boots believe this stuff? Are you excited about it? Because if the preacher doesn’t really believe it and if the preacher isn’t really excited then nobody else is going to be. The difference (in my mind) between a Bible teacher and a Bible preacher is that one informs the mind and one moves the soul. If you need help working out which is which then you fall into the non preacher category.

Sadly, passion is neither taught nor caught. You either have it or you don’t. There is no lecture that is going to give it to you. Some men try to generate it and they end up looking silly and sounding completely insincere. The danger with the era of podcasts is so many preachers end up trying to imitate the man they admire the most. So, we can have men doing a wild, vogue like dance al la Piper every Sunday in an effort to be like him and they just look like they’re either trying to land aircraft or having an epileptic fit.

The key is to be true to our personalities. Surely, even the most emotionally repressed individual must get excited about something. My feeling is that if it requires ‘work’ or ‘effort’ or ‘concentration’ to get excited about preaching then you are in the wrong game. And I am not talking about getting wet with excitement over the ‘toldothic structure’ of Genesis but about the glorious gospel truths of scripture and how they come to bear in the lives of everyday people in our congregations.

We have 30-45 minutes on a Sunday to proclaim the Word of the Lord loud and clear into a culture where a thousand other voices are laying claim to our people. Where the relentless tide of secular atheism, pluralism and secularism are constantly eating way at the confidence of believers. We have that time to shout from the rooftops, inspire, berate, plead, encourage, rebuke and move our people (through the power of the Holy Spirit obviously). But instead, many of us just send them off to sleep or beat about the bush in case we upset somebody. We need more passion in the pulpit. I am not talking about banging your hand on the pulpit and shouting, ‘take heed brothers’ rather I am talking about genuine, thought through, relevant application that shows people that we truly care for them and they are not some clever addendum to our beautiful 3 point, perfectly alliterated oratory. There’s nothing more painful to my ears than a man standing with the truth in his hands and lacking any fervency and inspiration. They should be removed from our pulpits and shot forthwith. People get excited about the word when we are excited about the word. People get excited about the gospel when we are excited about the gospel. If our people are bored with the truth then we need to look at ourselves.

Pray for God-given passion. Keep praying for God-given passion. Pray for our people that they would catch hold of it and run with it themselves.