Beyond Guilt – Part 3


What is our strategy in preaching?

So far we have looked at issues of stance and tone in this series.  It is easy to have a minimalist default approach of piling on the pressure and using guilt to twist arms.  The biblical preacher needs to get beyond that.
The Preacher’s Strategy.
Let’s face the real issue head on.  What is our strategy in preaching?  If the goal is life transformation, then what strategy makes sense?  It certainly can’t be a simplistic answer since the human is a complex creature.  But here are some pointers on strategy issues.
Transformation involves movement from a negative to a positive. 
transformationPreaching for that transformation cannot simply critique the negative.  We need to help people see what life would look like if the biblical truth were to take hold.  Simply making people feel bad is not a solution.
Often people simply cannot conceive of what a faith-filled Christ-like in-step-with-the-Spirit life would look like in terms of a specific issue.  In one sense then we have some role as life coaches.  But it is more than that.
Transformation involves motivation for applying the message of God’s Word. 
Preaching for that transformation cannot simply inform, or even pressure, it needs to motivate.  We need to understand how people work at the deepest level.  If we think that information plus pressure will generate good things then we have been significantly led away from the teaching of the Bible by the thinking of this world.
What is the root issue Paul points to in Ephesians 4:17ff?

Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. [18] They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. [19] They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. [20] But that is not the way you learned Christ!—[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

People act and behave a certain way because of their thinking – so we need to educate!  Hang on, yes we do, but he goes further, there’s a deeper issue…the root issue is the hardness of heart.  Somehow the heart influences even how the mind will process information.  Christian transformation is not really about well-informed minds and well-disciplined wills.  It is an issue of the heart, inside to out, a matter of response as opposed to responsibility.
Transformation involves response to more than a vision of better living.  
It is not about realizing innate potential, but about responding from the core to a compelling love that alone can truly transform a life.
So our strategy includes presentation of application rather than just declaration of guilt.  Our strategy includes communicating with people as if they are heart-driven beings and not just informed decision makers.  But the ultimate issue has to be the One to whom people should respond, which I’ll leave until tomorrow’s post.
You can leave a comment for this article on Peter’s blog.
~ Peter Mead
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit Peter also authors the website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]