Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jack Miller: Preaching Christ by Faith

Here's an extended quote that I read yesterday from one of my heroes, Jack Miller, on preaching. I considered that it was worth sharing. It has brought me to repentance in my attitude to preaching:

Preaching ought to have the best wit, wisdom, clarity and logical order that a preacher can give it. But these qualities by themselves will not add up to preaching Christ by faith. Something more is called for. That something more is aiming the message at people with the purpose of bringing them to Christ. The goal is to change them by the power of the gospel.

If we as preachers have another goal, we will have short-circuited the whole process and confirmed ourselves and the congregation in our spiritual introversion. I think that we preachers must admit that we often are captured by other goals. Sometimes we make an eloquent message our primary goal. We become intent on producing a work of art or a scholarly composition. The sermon can become the end instead of a means toward an end. Phillips Brooks wrote in his Lectures on Preaching that this the cause of the failure of so 'many of the ineffective sermons that are made.' The prevailing intention of the heart of the preacher is to 'produce something which shall be a work of art' rather than a message 'aimed at the men,' with a view to their transformation into Christlikeness.

The preacher can hardly expect the Spirit of Christ to breathe through an art object that exists for its own sake.... The preacher should instead see preaching much more as a declaration of war, a conflict in which well-disciplined words march as to war to bring the hearers to surrender to Jesus Christ. We need to use the pulpit as a battle station.
- C. John Miller, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, pages 123-124

1 comment:

Dave K said...

Good quote. Good challenge not to forget the final goal in pursuing the intermediate ones.