With all our talk in Reformed circles about the importance of preaching, might not experience call that into question? Might not some disagree simply by observation?
Please understand. If you told me Reformed churches are concerned about the importance of teaching and I had to measure that by what takes place on Sunday morning, I would believe you. But preaching? It’s not that we don’t exegete the passages. We do. It’s not that we don’t have all our Westminster t’s crossed and i’s dotted. They are. It’s not that the sermons are too short. They’re not! So what’s wrong?
Martin Lloyd-Jones in his book Preaching & Preachers reminds us that a sermon is not:
- an essay (written to be read rather than proclaimed),
- nor a lecture (a talk on a topic rather than a message from a text),
- nor a commentary (a running explanation of each verse rather than a “burden of the Lord” on the heart of the preacher).
Yet experience shows that we Reformed pastors often can use the Scripture more like an encyclopedia than a sword; our podiums can seem more like lecterns than pulpits many times. Why do we Reformed preachers have this tendency to go for the head but not the heart? Looking at my own struggles in this area over the years, though many reasons exist, it fundamentally boils down to one issue. Fear. We are scared.
Scared of what? All sorts of thing. We are scared that begging people to be reconciled to God sounds Arminian. We are scared that emotion violates decency and order. We fear certain truths might offend some of our respectable members. And perhaps most of all we are scared of love, of open and passionate expressions of love for Christ and His people. Yet is that not to be the goal of all our instruction, especially preaching (I Timothy 1:5)?
Say what you will about the video below, call me what you will for highlighting it, but a little more of the type of love exemplified in it, seasoning sermons from Reformed pulpits, would go a long way in capturing hearts in this sleepy generation.