The Spirituality of Preaching

At a 2009 Baptist World Alliance Conference in Holland, David Coffey delivered a paper called ‘Truth on Fire’ and offered 7 dimensions that any budding preacher must integrate; serving also as a reminder to experienced preachers of what is important.

The warning he offers, serves as the rubric for seeing what the 7 dimensions are trying to accomplish, and it comes from Bishop Quayle, who said, “It is no trouble to preach, but a vast trouble to construct a preacher.”  Indeed.

I was inspired to write this partly in response to the oft repeated calls that preaching has had its day.  I disagree.  Bad, shallow, weak, irrelevant preaching has had its day!  But preaching proper is Gospel food for the starving soul.  Even those who didn’t know they were hungry realise they were starving when they hear good preaching!  Or to change the metaphor, you may be able to take the horse to water, but apparently, according to the proverb, you can’t make it drink!  I disagree.  Good preaching is not only the food we need, but the salt.  If you put salt into the horses food, it will drink!

Preaching should feed the willing hungry, and drive the hesitant or unwilling to the water of life – which is Jesus himself.

Dimension 1:  The preacher must be secure in their identity in Christ.  Everyone has a worth before God even before the do anything for God.  Coffey offers the ABCD of church life:  A for Attendance figures; B for Building and Maintenance; C for Cash flow which sustains ministry; D for Discipleship.  It is the preacher/minister who must, first and foremost, who is the prime practitioner in the congregation for what it means to be a life-long learner in the school of discipleship.  In this sense, D comes way before ABC.  Thus the main task of the preaching is to conform to God’s purposes in producing Christ-like disciples in the congregation, which he describes as painstaking and agonising.  

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Storm Centres of History: Cambodia

BBC Radio Devon – Pause for Thought:  Storm Centres

During the Pause for Thought recently, I’ve been talking about 7 places I have been to:  Storm-centres of history.

Today, we will go to Cambodia:

Possibly my earliest childhood memory of TV news, was seeing the unfolding genocide in Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime between 1975-1979.  From that moment on, a strange desire stayed with me that one day I would visit this beautiful land.

 

During the years I was a missionary with international mission agency Youth With A Mission, I met hundreds of people from all over the world; and some mission workers from Cambodia – this reignited my imagination again.

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Theology Questions: #4 Why are real relationship in the church so hard?

First, regarding the description of your stance within the church, then it is clear that you rightly wish to avoid the problem of polarized debates and “positions” whereby partisan factions develop that a priori reject one another’s points of view out of hand in the name of often unexamined interests and agendas that are often more political than doctrinal; in such scenarios, “right relating” typically degenerates into “clique relating” whereby opposing cliques “speak past” one another without listening to each other and where, in any case, a sophist rhetoric of false labelling of the other has replaced any “Roman rhetoric” that seeks a true appreciation of what the other is saying so that debate can be genuinely advanced. We could tabulate some contrasts here, as follows:

 

Right Relating (“Trinitarian” Relating) Distorted Relating (“Clique” Relating)
Authentic Intimacy of Shared Positives that Seeks to Include Outsiders in Community Counterfeit Intimacy of Shared Negatives that

Seeks to Exclude Outsiders from Community

Preserves Unity of the Spirit Degenerates Into Factions
Roman Rhetoric that Seeks Truth through Interrogation of Self and Others Sophist Rhetoric that Falsely But Cleverly Attacks Opposing Factions
True Redemptive Understanding of Others Inauthentic Defamatory Labelling of Others
Dissolves Acids of Suspicion/Hostility Creates Ever-Increasing Suspicion/Hostility
Genuine Expanding Dialogue Between Multiple Traditions with Genuine Listening Inauthentic Polarized “Debates” in Which

Opponents Shout-Over/Speak-Past Each Other

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The Genius of your Church

Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything under the sun.

Birth, death, planting, healing, mourning, dancing, etc.

 

There are times and seasons in our lives, and in the life of our church.

There are seasons for this or that.

A permanent this or that is never a good idea.

For ministry and mission can never be standardised and eternalised.

The Spirit blows where it wants to.  

 

The Churches in Revelation all had their folly and foibles.

The genius of the Ephesus church was her patient endurance.

Its sublime rejection of all that is evil.

Its ability to test and consider those who are true or false.  Etc.

That was their genius.

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The Depleted Self – how narcissism is linked to bureaucracy

I am currently continuing my reading on the writings of former Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary Donald Capps.  I hope to write a more detailed review of the book ‘The Depleted Self – sin in a narcissistic age’, but want to write something here that struck me about his one of his comments on psychotherapeutic literature relating to narcissism.  

71evB0k1zILFirstly, narcissism is far more than mere obsessional “self-love”, following Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection, leading to his own suicide.  Capps very helpfully takes the reader through a maze of discovery drawing on contemporary theories, and critiques the Church for failing to distinguish between the old cultural value of guilt and the contemporary ones of shame, a cause itself of anxiety.  Theologians and Churches have rather denounced “narcissistic behaviour” and being locked into a “guilt” framework have thus focused on moralistic remedies that address superficial behaviours, and not underlying ontological causes and conditions.

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The Way of Mercy and Reinstatement

20180514_144311.jpg“The Church is not interested in spiritual mediocrity.  It’s calling people to sainthood, to be a saint means to be heroically virtuous.  The family is a school of virtue, a school of sanctity, it’s meant to make us saints.  We’re not interested in a dumbed down or a dialled down ideal. … And as anyone in the pastoral life know, people struggle to attain this level.

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Poverty of the Holy Spirit

Poverty of the Holy Spirit

It is true that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit receives less attention than other doctrines.  Historically, the institutional church looked (and still looks) upon the appeal by the masses to the Spirit as potentially subversive and in need of control.  Maybe that’s partly why pneumatology is the “odd-ology” (Fabricius).

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