Keller Project: “Preacher, you’re not telling me how” [part 2]

see part I here.

While I tend to think the self-help style preachers need to learn the necessity of  gospel foundations when attempting to address particular changes of behavior or sin, perhaps we in Sydney need to become more sensitive to the particulars. It’s certainly an understatement to say that there’s a diversity of changed behavior the gospel inspires and there are a heap of particular sins the gospel defeats. So then when someone says ‘I know Jesus died for me, but you’re not telling me how to live a Godly life at work, family marriage.’  I’m not sure that the preacher’s response should be simply to plough on preaching the way they have, nor  re-focus the sermon to be  self-help. A more careful approach would be to work at regularly providing different samples,  hinting at the extent of gospel transformation – revealing the particulars, triggering the imagination, showing that a resurrection hope has traction in a every setting.

So it’s not:  now how to be more Godly

Nor is it:  here’s the cross, here’s the resurrection, don’t you get it!? Now live it.

A more loving approach is:  here’s the cross, here’s the resurrection, it’s defeated this, which changes everything – including this, this and this…

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5 Responses to Keller Project: “Preacher, you’re not telling me how” [part 2]

  1. davemiers says:

    A more loving approach is: here’s the cross, here’s the resurrection, it’s defeated this, which changes everything – including this, this and this…

    i like it.

    i’ve been enjoying this posts

  2. Chris Swann says:

    Right on, Luke!

    Imagination is really the key — sparking people’s imaginations and training their imaginations through the ‘case studies’ we select.

    Just think about what sort of difference it would make to our preaching if we wrestled with flesh and blood specifics in response questions like this: If I woke up tomorrow and actually believed what Jesus is saying here, what would be different about my life — my habits, my priorities, etc?

    • Luke says:

      Exactly Chris, I think we need to reclaim the concept of imagination. We never use it, because we associate it with the concept of ‘make believe’ (ie ‘make-up beliefs which are not true, but are pleasurable’)

      Jonathan Edwards says “Imagination is thinking by seeing, as distinguished from reasoning”

  3. Scott says:

    A more loving approach is: here’s the cross, here’s the resurrection, it’s defeated this, which changes everything – including this, this and this…

    Thanks Luke. I think this is absolutely correct. Whats more, I think this is what the texts we preach on are doing already. Perhaps Scripture is more implicit, or perhaps we are too ‘Christianised’ to realise the extent to which Scripture does it!

    How do we pick our samples wisely so they dont sound shallow? How do we weave them through the sermon? Don’t we need to dig deep into the human psychology to draw out how our mindsets are challenged by the gospel?

    • Luke says:

      Getting familiar with human psychology is helpful, but can happen naturally by being a good listener and by spending time with people.

      Regarding Keller’s own advice, he says: If you are the regular preacher, not to always preach to the same type of person every week, otherwise your church will only ever attract those kind of people. Know the culture, read the pop-literature, etc…

      But the most helpful thing he said is to discipline the people you talk to. Speak to new Christians, mature Christians, needy Christians, leaders, atheists, non-Christians spiritual seekers, the poor and the rich etc… Speak to the people that represent not only your church but your local community. If you’re doing this regularly with a passage of scripture in mind for Sunday, the samples will come easily and be far wiser. This is where preaching starts to contribute to both spiritual growth and numerical growth of the church.

      What is encouraging, is that this is basically the wise and true MTS principle: Ministry is about people. We must never forget it. You can’t be a professional preacher who sits in your study all week, only reading pop-culture and blogs, no matter how well known you are.

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