Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Relevance of Preaching

"Preaching must be relevant, I'm sure we would agree. But was does "relevant" mean? Who determins what is relevant and on what basis..... we frequently begin by "scratching where it itches". We start with a commonly felt need or problem, which may be anything from low self-esteem to animal rights or global warming. There is nothing wrong with such an approach, and, indeed, it may be necessary in some situations. But reducing the Christian message to a pragmatic one of helping us feel better or make the world a better place to line in.... the gospel not only defines the problem and God's response to it, it should also define the Christian buzz words that we use to assess sermons and talks. One might be tempted to say that two thousand people at a convention can't be wrong when there is almost total approval of the speak's addresses. At the risk of sounding a little cynical, I would have to say that it is entirely possible for them to be wrong. So much depends on what people have been taught to expect. It is not only possible but highly probably, unless we are constantly vigilant in this matter, that human nature will take over. In short, what is relevant is defined by the gospel; what is helpful is defined by the gospel. The first question to ask is not, "Was it relevant?"; "Did I find it helpful?"; or "Were we blessed?"; but "How did the study/sermon testify to Christ and his gospel as the power of God for salvation?"" Graeme Goldsworthy, p61-62, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture
I read this before our church meeting today. David Horrocks then preached on the aftermath of the flood in Genesis 8v15-9v17 pointing us to the goodness of God to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Goodness in providing a new way of dealing with sin (8v20). Goodness in renewing his blessing on humanity (9v1)
Goodness in making a promise (9v8-11). Highly relevant!


  1. I've heard it said that "You don't need to make the Bible relevant, it is relevant". Which I think is true, and we must indeed let the Bible set the agenda. But I think we can deny the Bible its relevance if we treat God's word as something disconnected from everyday life. Unless in our teaching and in our lives we show that the Bible has something to say, that it has an impact on every part of our lives and our beings, then we are denying its relevance and cannot expect people to see it as something relevant to their everyday lives. We don't need to make the Bible relevant, but I think often we need to stop making it irrelevant.

  2. Agreed.

    Bad preaching has the power to strip God's word of its power, stripping the life out of it..... and the best preaching simply brings that power to people, and then the Spirit transforms.