I like to put emotion in my preaching, not over the top, I’m not skipping and jumping and trying to stir up emotion. I just mean I want to have an emotional attachment to my subject.
Anytime I struggle to come up with another sermon idea (preaching three times a week for 20 years and not doing reruns causes this problem occasionally), my fallback is to talk about subjects I’m passionate about.
However, one thing I’ve noticed is that “passion” usually means “disgust.” I generally revert to preaching about things I despise, doctrines that are wrong, and frequently I call out theologians, churches, and denominations that promote such things.
Now, this is fun and will allow you to write a quick sermon. The audience eats it up too. There are laughs and nodding of heads. Everyone leaves feeling good about themselves and their church.
But is this good? Is it good for people to leave church feeling better about US than we do about THEM? Does this foster love?
The longer I’m a pastor the less appealing this approach becomes to me. I still fall into it from time to time, old habits die hard, but I’m making a concerted effort to eliminate bashing on others in my preaching.
I recently read that criticizing others often comes from a place on insecurity. The more insecure you are about your own beliefs, the more you will attack the beliefs of others. I’ve found this to be true in my ministry.
As a young pastor, I can honestly say I did not know the Bible as well as I should have. I knew I didn’t, but I had to preach anyway. I bashed on all kinds of stuff. I attacked everything. Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics, Protestants, Joel Osteen, politicians, halftime shows, the previous pastor’s insane doctrines, etc.
I let em have it. It made me feel more secure about my ignorance if I could prove I’m at least smart enough to show how ignorant others are.
But as I’ve preached and studied the Word for many years now, as I’m becoming more secure in my knowledge of Scripture, my pastoral chops, and even developing some genuine love and Christ-like character, I find this desire to be falling away.
I could pause right here and bash on any number of people online right now, point out how all their attacking and bashing on what other people do is merely an indicator of their own ignorance and insecurity, but I’m not going to.
I’m mature now, don’t ya know.
But it’s always a temptation. As a shepherd, aren’t I supposed to call out the wolves? There is a time and place for such things, but it’s not every five minutes in every sermon. Calling out bad doctrine for love and protection of your people is one thing, doing it to make you look better and resolve your own insecurities is not good.
Preaching is hard. There are many stumbling blocks out there waiting to trip you up. Our words have impact, and oh, by the way, your negative words about others will carry more weight than anything else you preach. It’s the way people hear. Be aware of this human tendency. We love the gossip.
Think about what you preach and why you preach it. I’m not claiming to be perfect on this issue, I’m writing about it because I think I blew it again this past Sunday. There’s no magic level you arrive at where pitfalls are forever eliminated.
Fight the fight. Preach the Word.