Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preaching in Unbelief

Here's your kernel about preaching in the context of unbelief: work in the text until the text takes you to the point of your unbelief, then write that unbelief on paper and begin preparing your sermon.

 Now let me back up with some autobiography. Some weeks disparate ideas come together and the week becomes one of those very good weeks. That was this week for me:
  • I reread one of my most helpful preaching books: Zack Eswine's Preaching to a Post Everything World. Eswine calls me to dig deep into the Word and he reminds me of tools to take me to the place he calls Challenger Deep.
  • Gena and I were in NYC and made the 7pm service of Redeemer Presbyterian at Hunter College. Tim Keller was preaching this service, always a pleasure to hear Tim, whether live or recorded.
  • I taught the last weekend of my class--Missional Strategies for the 21st Century--at http://HUGSR.edu. If the title doesn't fully reveal the content, the course is about evangelism. Yep. Evangelism. This last weekend we talked about evangelistic systems on a whole church level.
Hope you're not lost yet. There actually is a thread of commonality between these three events: Preaching.

Here's the connect.
  1. Eswine calls us to preach what is challenging. What's more challenging then unbelief?
  2. I love Tim Keller's work on defeater beliefs (http://bit.ly/eI92rD). Keller  suggests, "Defeaters are dealt with when the person feels you have presented the objection to Christianity in a clearer and stronger way than they could have done it."
  3. Preaching is the most influential event in a church's life or a minister's repertoire.
If we're going to preach in ways that influence people deeply I propose the best way is to preach the gospel in the context of unbelief. Find your point of unbelief in the text. Hone it to a state of mental "scary sharp," then let God take you to his point of resolution from the text. There it is, the core of your sermon. Now wrap that core with a layer of street made reality and you have a sermon that will grip anybody. Probably even yourself.


Jason Campbell said...

Wow, great article, Stan!

Ben said...

Very, very good. Good stuff! :)

James Wood said...

Well said. I reflected some on your thoughts here. One thought is that unbelief exists where we lack knowledge, control or both. So the more we dive into God and his word, the more unbelief we'll have. (I'm still evaluating that thought to see if it holds up)