Contend Earnestly: Boring Preachers Suck

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boring Preachers Suck

Are you a preacher? Are you boring? If yes, please stop preaching. I know it sounds pretty critical. I know it sounds maybe shallow at first, but boring preaching really sucks. Besides the obvious point, that if you are boring people won’t want to sit and listen to you, how are you a good representative of the most amazing event that ever happened, namely, the cross?

Go do something else for the cause of Christ. Feed the homeless, teach Sunday School, serve your church in other ways, but if you don’t have the gift of telling others the exciting news of Christ from the pulpit…take a seat.

Here is the point of this post…I believe that preaching is different than teaching and some have the gift and some just don’t. What I want you to also know is that I am NOT saying that excitement and emotion from the pulpit is the only thing, but it is definitely a part of the pulpit. We won’t be looking at other parts of being a pastor, such as exposition of the passage, which is the most important, but we’ll just be covering one part: the excitement of preaching.

Here is what we are going to look at:

Preaching is Heralding and Shouting; Not merely Teaching
Preaching is emotional
Preaching is a gift

Preaching is Heralding and Shouting; Not Merely Teaching

One of the coolest, yet strangest men in the New Testament, was no doubt John the Baptist. If you and I saw him today we would kindly ask him to please go to the fundamental church down the street where they “like that sort of thing.” He ate bugs, dressed in camel hair and preached in the most unlikely spot: the hot desert in Judea. Dude was odd. But, he does give us some insight into what it means to preach something that means a lot to you.

John the Baptist was a man that had a conviction and it was to let people know that the Christ was coming and he was coming to take away the sin of the world. One of the best ways to see how his preaching ministry took footing is found in Matthew 3:1-12.

“JtB” as I will call him, knowing that he is dead and can’t come and hunt me down in his camel suit, had a message that he could not wait to tell everyone. Here, in this passage, there are three words that are associated with “how” JtB told people about the coming Messiah.

The first is the term, “preaching.” This term means to literally herald. This is how Strong’s defines the term: to proclaim after the manner of a herald. always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed.

This term speaks of authority and one that must be listened to and obeyed. Does this give you the thought of a monotone pastor that sounds like he is reading the phonebook? Hardly.

The second term is “saying” at the end of verse 1. This terms speaks of affirming something by speaking out loud by command. Again, showing authority by commanding something as the speaker speaks.

Lastly, the term “crying” is used by way of the prophecy from Isaiah 40. This term means to shout out loud because of joy or pain, to use a strong voice.

So we have the crazy man, John the Baptist, convicted of a message that he needs to preach, and he does it with excitement while he still has some locusts stuck in his teeth. In the end, we see that John the Baptist is not a man that sounds like he is in the wilderness speaking monotone about the most exciting thing to come to the people of Israel.

No, we see a man convicted of a message in the wilderness getting people’s attention, not only with the message but also in the delivery and force of the speaker. This man is one that any would listen to. Does this describe you? If not...please don't preach.

Preaching is Emotional

We learn from Christ that out of the heart the mouth speaks. We also learn that we are to love the Lord our God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.

When we are told to love God with all of our heart and soul, the soul is said to be part of the human that puts forth its desires and affections. You get that...affections!

So, if the preacher is allowing his heart to speak and he truly loves the Lord with all his soul, would not his mouth show the emotions and affections of his love of God?

We actually do see this in the preaching of Peter and John. They show how much they love Christ in their preaching to the people. Take a look at this verse:

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13

Peter and John show confidence because of what is found in their heart. This term confidence gives the idea of free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance. Notice that the council could tell that these men were uneducated and untrained, in probably oratory speaking, but it says that the council was amazed! Even more so, it says that the council, because of the confidence of the two standing before them, that these two had been with Jesus. Because of this boldness and because of their message the council in verse 18 of Acts 4 says that they ordered them to stop teaching about Jesus. Sadly, when I hear some preachers they sound like they have never experienced Christ, but only have read about him.

This passage though, as a whole, gives the essence that Peter and John were very emotional about what they were preaching on. Because of the overflow of their hearts, these two confidently proclaimed the Messiah to all who would hear. They were truly preachers, not merely teachers.

The question is do others see you, if you are a preacher, the confidence in your message? Can they tell that you have been with Jesus? Or do you sound more like a math teacher?

If people can’t tell the confidence and joy you have in Christ, I would beg you again, to find another way to serve God. Preachers are men who preach with the emotion of one that has been with Christ, not one who has only heard the good news.

Preaching is a gift

People mistakenly take preaching and lump it in with teaching as though it was the same thing. Sorry to say, these people are far off. In Romans 12 we have some of the gifts listed.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;
Romans 12:6-7

The term for prophecy would be one that is associated with the preacher. Prophecy means to proclaim or herald before a people. The Old Testament prophet would be the equivalent of the New Testament preacher. Notice also that another gift listed in verse 7 is the one for teaching. This shows that they are not the same. Although there may be many of the attributes that are the same between the two; exposition, biblical understanding, etc., there is big difference in how one who just has the gift of teaching and one that has the gift of prophecy and teaching will differ.
I believe the main difference is going to be in the delivery. Again, the main purpose of the prophet is to declare. They are to declare the things of God. Think of the first point that we made in this post with John the Baptist. The preacher is to herald with confidence and with authority. They are to do this without wavering as the Old Testament prophets did among the nations. Think of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Think how these men spoke against the people of their day; this is the role of the preacher.

It is a gift. Teachers are much needed in the church, but we should not expect every teacher to be able to get behind the pulpit and start teaching with passion. It isn’t that easy.

The sad part is that I believe many look to teachers who can exposit a passage and knows a lot about the Bible and then they place them behind the pulpit without care. The problem is that they are boring and no one wants to listen a thing they have to say. With a preacher, they do all the same thing that a teacher would, except they come with authority, confidence and emotion for the oracles of the Lord God our Yahweh.

One of my friends quoted something that he had heard once (it wasn't said to him):

The message isn't boring, you are!

So, if you are a preacher that sounds like Ben Stein on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…how about you take a day off and we’ll call you, don’t call us.

P.S. Just for pastor doesn't suck...he loves Jesus and shows it through his preaching and through the way he lives his life.


ct said...

Ouchie. Remind me never to send you a copy of one of my sermons. :)

You just come back out of the gate firing don't you?

I'm just kidding. In all seriousness I think you're spot on.

This is one of the things that kills me about several of the presbyterian churches I've visited. They have all this glorious truth and present it in such a boring way.

Seth McBee said...


Yeah...I kind of did come out and just "get to the point" didn't I?

Anyway...this came about because of a discussion with Dave over at Poop is Emergent Too

I was actually nice, because I didn't link the guy (notice I didn't say preacher) who made a dental office look fun.

Anonymous said...

It is the great dread of every preacher to wonder if he is boring the people. But what preachers seem to forget is that it is a travesty to be boring! To be boring is to lose sight of the eternal significance of the pulpit. To be boring is to blaspheme the word of God because the Word of God is not boring."

Said C Michael McMahon

Anonymous said...

Why would you tell people that they're not supposed to preach when the word of God says very CLEARLY the opposite is true. Mark 16:15 We are all called to proclaim publically, loudly herralding like you have in your message, the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Seth McBee said...

I was talking about the ministry of being a pastor on the Lord's Day...

This is why I spoke about the gift of preaching vs teaching, etc.

Sorry for the confusion

Anonymous said...

Acts 20:6 - 12

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