Thursday, January 22, 2015

How not to preach revival

We all would love a greater presence of Jesus in our lives. To hear the Holy Spirit's voice clearer.  To, in the words of Robin Lamont in Godspell,

See you more clearly,
     love you more dearly
 follow you more clearly.

(If this isn't true of you then may I suggest you have some other business to take care of and you had better get to it).

In short, what we want is revival.  I came across a recent sermon about revival by someone who I am guessing runs more along the lines of the charismatic spectrum.  I haven't listened to this kind of preaching in a long time.  Some characteristics are worth noting:


  • Lots of stories.  I'm not against stories used for the purpose of clarifying scripture, provided that is really what you are doing.  (Not surprising) Stories were focused on the preacher.
  • Scripture merely peppered throughout but no one text was focused upon.  This will happen in topical sermons which is why I steer clear of them (although they are appropriate on occasion).  Why?  See next point.
  • When scripture was used it was typically taken out of context and used to support the point.  In fact, it was as if the quoted or referenced passages were simply there to support the topic and really had little purpose or benefit beyond that.
  • Humorous.  Ok, so being funny isn't a crime.  It can be quite helpful at times.  However, revival, God's Word, sin, all very serious topics.  People shouldn't walk away from our sermon saying, "What a funny guy".  I'm not for being a prude, but let's be real: we are speaking God's word to God's people.  That should at least make us a bit more sober in our presentation.

Yes, I want revival.  I preach revival.  But I don't want another "revival" that fills buildings full of flakey theology and half-way christians.  America is full of buildings like that and it hasn't done any good.  In fact, a revival that simply gives us twelve really serious, on fire, God fearing, Jesus loving, Bible thumping, all-the-time-praying, men and women would be fantastic!  With those twelve the world could be changed.  With twelve the world was changed.

We, especially those called to preach and teach God's Word, need to pray and study and pray and then preach the whole council of God.  We aren't called to be great orators or funny key-note speakers. We are called to be preachers of the Word of God.  When we preach revival...especially when we preach revival, we need to make sure we are preaching God's word and do our best to leave ourselves out of it.  Let's face it, contrary to popular opinion among many of God's people, we really aren't all that important to the process.  God could, after all, use a donkey.  In fact...I think maybe he prefers using an ass. The N.T. calls them "fools" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), but a rose by any other name...

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