By Paul Koch –
I’ve been dancing around this problem for a long time. I’ve walked right up to it again and again, always willing to look over the edge but never to take the leap. I couch my words in terms of “fears” or “concerns” but never just call the thing what it is.
It’s time to take the leap.
The church and her pastors have forgotten what it means to preach!
Sure this may sound like a hyperbole but I’m quite serious. And of course I don’t mean that every pastor is failing as a preacher, but I do think this is a problematic situation bordering on the verge of an epidemic. I’ve been worried about it, and fretted over it, and I don’t really want to say it – but a lot of what passes for preaching these days just plain sucks.
It’s not that the stories aren’t great or the metaphors aren’t creative, rather it’s that the Word is actually never being proclaimed! And that’s one hell of an accusation. There are a lot of wonderful history lessons form our pulpits or doctrinal treatises. But an active Word that actually kills and brings forth new life here and now seems to be stifled. There is a lot of talk about Christ (in the most glowing and powerful terms mind you) without actually giving Christ to the hearer.
The last time I found myself sitting in a pew on a Sunday morning I recall having a conversation afterward with my wife that still shocks me when I think about it. Sitting in the car as we drove out of the parking lot I actually said, “If that is what I was hearing every Sunday from my preacher, you would have a hard time convincing me to get out of bed on a Sunday morning.”
Now look I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be supportive of my brothers in the ministry, I want to cheer them on and challenge myself alongside of them to become better preachers of the Word. And I still really hope I’m wrong, I hope that because I am a preacher myself and don’t get out very often to other congregations that I’m just getting a bad sample.
But if I’m right, and you would know better than I, then we have a real problem. A problem that will not get better by being quiet about it. It’s time to look long and hard at what we hear on a Sunday morning, it’s time to questions whether it is the pulpit that drives the life of the church through the proclamation of Law and Gospel or is it something else entirely.
It is time to remind our church and her pastors what it means to preach!