Speaking of preaching...

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Building on Pope Francis's commendation of Evangelical preaching, I thought it was telling that the talks I heard at this year's Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference did not mention preaching. The subject of the conference was "Salt and Light," but there was nothing about preaching. This is the state of preaching in the Reformed church today; we're forsaking preaching for the sacraments, liturgy, and culture (art, music, poetry, etc.) and these are the means of grace we trust for bringing in the Kingdom of God. 

Meanwhile Pope Francis calls Roman Catholics to know their people and to give themselves to preaching.

If you attend the worship services presided over by most Reformed celebrities today, you'll find the sermons are either vacuous exercises in redemptive-historical technique or yawn-inducing lectures on this or that theological truth. The sort of stuff coming from the pulpits of the men who have been called to tall-steeple churches to preach to the Reformed bourgeoisie today in these United States, at least, is never noteworthy for its dependence upon...

the power of the Holy Spirit nor for its authority. Were our Lord to return today as a humble itinerant preacher and begin to preach, say outside the churches and four-star hotels where Reformed celebrities had gathered their acolytes and spread out their wares, the people would abandon the celebrities and flock to Him. And John would introduce his preaching: 

As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  - Matthew 3:11

Hearing His preaching, the people would exclaim:

What is this? A new teaching with authority!  - Mark 1:27


They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  - Mark 1:22

"Not as the scribes." Not as the seminary professors. Not as the pastors peddling their wares to the bourgeoisie.

Since Dad often took me along as he travelled, I grew up listening to speakers at Christian conferences and I remember my hunger for admonishments and exhortations, for calls to repentance and holiness. But of course these were celebrities speaking—not pastors preaching. This was business, not worship. This was a message at an Orlando venue, not a sermon on a mount. This was a man being paid speaking to the people who registered to hear him, not a man with nowhere to lay His head preaching to the bedraggled souls there on the hillside who now needed to be fed.

Some years ago Evangelical churches turned to copying the mass-marketing techniques of Cru and other parachurch organizations, and today there is little difference between a Cru meeting on a university campus and the worship service of the local megachurch. In a similar way, Reformed churches have turned to copying Reformed conferences, and today there is little difference between the speaking at this and that Reformed conference by this and that Reformed celebrity author and the speaking at this and that Reformed church by this and that Reformed pastor.

Evangelical speaking has no goal of repentance produced in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus it has no authority and the winds of regeneration do not blow.

Reformed speaking has no goal of repentance produced in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus it has no authority and the winds of regeneration do not blow.

God has removed our preachers from us and we are too stupid to mourn.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis just issued a call for his Roman Catholic priests to give up their "abstract" "lectures in theology" and to preach.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!