Awhile back I had mentioned how the embrace of certain programs that promise to grow the church or be more intentional to reaching out into the community can in fact create what I called the “Lazy Preacher.” That is, when a pastor is struggling because he no longer sees the progress he had hoped for in some sort of measurable means (usually butts in pews) then he goes begging. He looks for some other magic formula produced by an “expert” that will produce the result.
The result of this is not that the pastor is lazy in toto, usually these programs take a lot of work and are quite involved bending a pastors time and creativity to the task. Rather, the tendency is to be lazy in the preaching task. Since the answer isn’t found in the proclamation then the efforts are focused elsewhere. The preaching becomes lazy, it becomes of secondary (at best) importance to the way in which one views the office of the ministry.
This is, I think, the great battle that is constantly waged within our pastors. The temptation to have as primary importance something other than preaching. For as the pendulum swings the other way, when special programs recede and high-church symbolism emerges the same temptation comes forward. The lazy preacher is not just found in the contemporary congregations with the latest and greatest programs, he is found also hiding behind the liturgy and smells and bells of ancient customs. If the conduct of the service becomes of primary importance allowing proclamation to be displaced then things have gone awry and the preacher has again gone begging.
Preaching is the defining task of a pastor, it is his craft to hone and polish year after year, sermon after sermon. Let us dare to be lazy in our programs and even lazy in our conduct of the service if it means that we are never lazy in proclamation!