Preaching, Not Impressing
Our job as preachers is not to impress people; it’s to teach God’s Word in a way that people understand and are thus able to live out. We want people in our ministry to be hungry for God’s Word. In fact, we want them to be like the Bereans.
Remember Acts 17 when Paul was teaching in Berea. Verse 11 tells us, “The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” When Paul would preach, people would run to the Word of God and examine it to see if the words of the preaching apostle were true. In essence, they had a hunger for the Word, and they wanted to live it out.
So, here are three quick things to keep in mind when teaching the Bible, so that it is accessible for people to understand, and more importantly, for people to go and live out.
1. Context matters.
There is an original meaning to every Scripture. The Bible is living and active, so it’s always relevant. But remember: there was a specific context in which it was written, a specific message for the audience who received that word. So, there’s original audience, an original author, and an original meaning. Context matters, and we get to teach that to our people. And it’s so fun to teach. We sometimes think, Well, people won’t be interested in that, or That’s way over their heads. No, I’m telling you now: your people are interested in that.
2. Application matters.
We need to ask the question, What does it mean to us today? While we know this is an ancient Word, we must remember, too, that it’s always relevant. So often, one of the best ways to make that transition is to say, “What did this mean 2,000 years ago?” And then when teaching the application part, say, “Okay, what does this mean to us today in 2023?” Then further ask the question, “What is God calling us to do?” Because every passage is calling us to action. We’re reminded of who we are in Christ. Then, we’re prompted to go live this way. James 1:22 says this: “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
3. Don’t dumb it down, but don’t make people feel dumb.
When we’re not careful, we try to preach over people’s heads. I once heard someone say this: “If you’re preaching over people’s heads, you’re not showing them how smart you are. You’re just showing them you’re a bad shot.” Understand where your people are. Understand what they can handle. Then, preach to where your people are. But also don’t dumb it down. One thing I know about communicating to young people is that while they’re not scared to die young, they are terrified of boredom. And if we make this boring, that’s on us because the Word of God is not boring. I think we often make it boring when we choose to dumb it down. Stick to the Bible. If the Bible teaches Bible words, use those Bible words. Just make sure to define them.
To Live and Learn
The end goal is for people to understand the Word, go live the Word, and then through it all, grow in their maturity for Christ. I really believe that one of the greatest issues in the church today is biblical illiteracy. People don’t know the Bible. Even people who have been going to church for decades don’t know the Bible. And it’s on us to teach the Bible.
So, let’s teach the Word of God in such a way that people want to engage with the Word of God, learn the Word of God, understand the Word of God, and go live the Word of God.
Published October 9, 2023