07 March 2014
Around the Region
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Yes, Penny, I believe simplicity is a strong underlying factor in teaching the Bible.
I remember as a choirboy in the High Church of England, our Rector was deeply theological, and often delved into Greek and Hebrew. Most of the big congregation we could see had fallen asleep or at least glazed over.
One of his curates however, who went on to be a Dean, was quite adept at reaching people with simple truths illustrated from real life. And he broke the mould and left the pulpit to get his message across.
Interesting observations Penny. However does that mean that preachers are too deep, or that many congregations are shallow?
Whereas I see merit in the method of the gentleman from Orkney, Scots congregations tend to be a bit like the weather, rather dreek and not easy to inspire due to our dour nature, (come to think about it, maybe it is the weather that makes us that way!!).
South of the Border isn't so much different. They're either over the top and know all the answers or can't wait for a cup of tea and a biscuit at the end. The social life often seems more important than the service.
As you will by now have guessed, I believe generally it's the congregations which are too shallow.
Is this a recent observation, or something that you have witnessed over a longer period of time?
Sometimes preachers are too deep. A favourite pet hate of mine is when they begin to use Greek or Latin words and think we all want to hear how erudite they are in being able to explain their meaning. I've lost count of how many times 'Agape' has been explained! 'Shekinah' is another favourite!
Whilst there are a few people who love deep theological sermons, most of us respond best to a simple sermon which we can relate to and take away with us, especially if they are reinforced with real-life stories.
I have discovered that personal testimonies are also very interesting to others, particularly non-Christians, as they are factual but non-threatening and often answer questions which a non-Christian has but would never actually ask (perhaps for fear that they would be encouraging unwelcome evangelisation).
No, Peter, not recent at all. As I think about it, recollections from forty years ago, in the C of E, things were dulling down, ministers were working harder for less spiritual reward.
At times of crisis I've seen churches fill up, and people apparently attentive to the minister, but she the crisis passed, well.
Sorry about the dim view of things ... they are just observations.
I have no doubt there is truth in what you say and have observed, however there are always 2 sides to every arguement, and I would like to bring to our attantion the preachers mandate from the passages below. These are not the be all and end all, but are key when it comes to undertanding where the true preacher/teacher is coming from when it comes to The Lord's call on his/her life.
There is,and always will be frictions, misunderstandings between the minister and congregation when it comes to sermon length, depth etc, but at the end of the day it is The Lord who does the calling, equipping, sending and sustaining of true biblical ministry.
As an aside I know of a minister who was asked to reduce his preaching time by half, he refused and he and the church had parted company within 12 months. The elders and deacons of that church wanted no more than 15 minutes preaching on a Sunday morning!!
Eph 4: 11 - 12 "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up"
2 Tim 4: 1 - 3 "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
I agree that no matter what you do, you will never please everyone. The minister who you mention above, who was asked to half his preaching time: Was he asked because the congregation wanted home by a certain time, or was it because he just felt he had to preach for a certain length of time? I have sat under ministers who cannot contemplate not preaching for at least half an hour, sometimes considerably more, and it is not so much the length of time that matters but the quality of the content. One preacher can say more effectively in ten minutes what another would stretch to last forty minutes. I am much more likely to remember the ten minute one as it is likely to be straight to the point. I agree that some subjects take longer to address, and that's fine so long as it doesn't become long-winded and complicated. That's when you lose people.
The most effective preachers are those who can preach for forty minutes but leave you feeling that they had only been speaking for five minutes!
As regards the passage in Timothy: We do need sound doctrine but it doesn't need to be long-winded and boring!
At the end of the day I am only responsible for one man's preaching (my own). The gentleman I refer to is a deep biblical preacher, the congregation had no say in the matter, just a few in leadership who seemingly didn't appreciate or want deep biblical teaching. What people want and what they need are often two different things!!
The problem for the minister/preacher is that congregations are made up with people who are all at different stages in their spiritual development. Preach too shallow and you will upset some, preach too deep and you will upset others. Please give some thought to the one who is called to dispense God's truth to all!!
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