Chapter 1: How Not To

How to Preach Real, Relevant, Relational and Revolutionary Sermons

Chapter 1
How Not To

Don’t ever read a “how to” book. And never ever write one.
There is an affliction that strikes contemporary Christian church leaders. Once a bright young leader in the Contemporary Christian Culture has had some modest success they begin to believe in their methods. That somehow they have understood something that no one else (at least very few) has been able to understand. They have finally found a way. After 2000 years of worship or preaching or discipleship at last someone has got it right. Them.
Whey wouldn’t the young C.C.C. leader think this? People, members of the congregation, other pastors start asking them, “How did you do it?” They young leader gets ask to speak at a few conferences, lead workshops and even—to consult.
It is hard to be a good consultant with out a book. Once you have a book then you have something to say and after you say it you can sell them the book.
Preaching, like church planting and growing and discipling, however are very contextual things. It is hard to preach a sermon written for a particular group of people to a completely different group of people. Because, you know, they are different people.
Nothing is sadder than to see a beautiful congregation of fifty member that has been around for a hundred years in a small town in rural Iowa turn them selves inside out chop up their organ, spend what little money they have on technology (cordless mic.s and keyboards are favorite starters, then on to the projector and the power point) all because one of the board members attended a Willow Creek training and bought the “How To” book at the sales table on the way out.
The church ends up having to watch kindly Mr. Sundquist fumble with the sound system, able to get from it only ear piercing feed back, while the forty nine year old volunteer youth director tries to rap.
Following the principles of any “How To” book is like wearing someone else’s clothes. They don’t look good on you. They looked good on the consultant, but you have a different body type. He is a Summer, you are Winter. They end up accentuating your worst features. Besides your clothes aren’t that bad. Keep your clothes on.
Another important point: The Book of Acts is not a “How To” book. Even if you could discern from its pages how the first century Christian church operated, why would you want a first century church? The only thing worse than wearing someone else’s hip new clothes, is wearing someone else’s old clothes.

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2 Responses to Chapter 1: How Not To

  1. dave paisley says:

    This is, of course, an extension of the “business book” fad, which has been around a lot longer. Company A posts remarkable growth/ profit/ stumbles upon incredibly new market and the CEO believes it’s all his/her own insight that made it happen. The book deal is only minutes away at that point.

    The thing is, there are some things that are teachable and replicable, but it’s hard to predict. Generally speaking, they are the ones that require some thought and effort from you, the learner. But most people don’t want that, they want the quick, easy answer.

    As you note, if the clothes don’t fit – don’t wear them.

  2. Pingback: Tensegrities » “How not to…”

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