I think that much preaching is in this mistaken mode: appeals to the broken and hurting in which (or, because) everyone is defined primarily as broken and hurting. Thus, Bible texts are chosen for their ability to comfort the broken and hurting. These turn out to be the most successful sermons (that is, they elicit the most emotional response) and so the preacher learns to return to the theme frequently.Too true, I think.
In all this it is not disciples who are not being addressed, but simply folks with problems.
But hey, isn't everyone broken and hurting? Even disciples? Yes, yes, but what I have noticed is that this sort of preaching winds up having the effect not so much of healing them than of encouraging people to continue to self-define as victims. Just what the wider culture does! It's as if this self-definition (hurting and broken victims) were inescapable, and church then becomes primarily a place of momentary solace or an interlude of hope rather than a place of equipping.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Bob Spencer has noticed something about a lot of contemporary preaching in the U.S.: