Preaching and Preachers

Here I am preparing to preach this Sunday, and it was my preaching - really the reactions to it, meaning that I got in trouble because of the “fallout” - that first spurred me to get in touch with @jacob.mentzel earlier this year and led to my wife’s and my visit to Bloomington in August.

When our senior pastor first asked me to preach (2013), he gave me the book Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chappell. That’s the expected model, I suppose.

Stephen Baker and Mike Foster nailed it on an episode of the Practical Ecclesiology podcast when they said that “gospel-centered” preaching harps on justification again and again and again in hopes that sanctification will automatically happen.

Well, I’m pretty tired of it.

Not preaching. I love preaching. It’s one of my favorite things in life.

  • But I don’t love that I am expected to approach each sermon like our congregation has never heard the gospel before.

  • I don’t love having to assume that hearers will be hostile to whatever I draw from the passage and need to be convinced with crafty logic.

  • And I don’t love being graded on whether I have “meandered” my way to Jesus in sometimes bizarre ways that make me feel like I’m doing violence to the passage.

A friend of mine, who is a son of one of my former pastors, says that Scripture is like ice cream to Christians, so if you’re passing out ice cream cones - preaching the Bible - and no one wants any, something is wrong.

  • I’m tired of living by this Kellerland fear that the Word is more like a dark green vegetable that requires a lot of bribing and cajoling to get your children to even tolerate it.

Of course some of this is due to my own weakness and temptation, but the mindset we here have set up, which I suspect may even trace back to our (PCA) seminary and church planter training, certainly does not help.

I’m weary of denying God’s powerful, authoritative word while I ought to be proclaiming it, friends.

I’ll take whatever you got. Observations, encouragement, rebuke, anything. These concerns are legitimate, aren’t they?


The Bible says “honey,” but ice cream works. Lol.

On the other hand, it is also nourishing like green veggies, and sharp like a sword.

One thing that helps me when I’m facing similar thoughts is to realize that it has always been true that prophets (those who teach us the will of God, aka pastors today) have had to declare these truths to a people that do not want to hear.

And that’s why it’s such happy news that the Word is sharp enough to pierce. Don’t be bitter that you have to wield it like a sword.

But it sounds like you are frustrated at having to put safety bumpers over the edges. Don’t do that. But if they are only used to milk, remember what Paul says. It takes time to mature to meat. Start mixing in some of those peas. :slight_smile:

How’s that for mixing metaphors?


I’ve certainly struggled with the very same frustrations! I think many have not sat under solid preaching that speaks to sanctification in the way you mention, rather than running to justification; and that may be why the emphasis is missing… that, and the fact that, despite lip service to the contrary, many churches are geared toward unbelievers.


Good words from both of you men. You’re right, @jtbayly. I’ll try to be wise as I mix in those peas from Exodus 16 tomorrow.

That said, it is disheartening when brief mentions of specific sins or applications are met with admonishment to the preacher that he needs first and foremost to tend to his “ethos.”

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Yes. Quite disheartening. Not quite as disheartening as having the king cut off the part you just read and burn it in front of you. :flushed:

Also, remember that God’s word never returns void. Trust Him and take your lumps as you seek to preach by faith.

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