The New Bully Pulpit

Apparently Barack Obama’s church has become the new bully pulpit (pun intended!). You probably have heard about the most recent flap over a guest preacher’s words at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. If not, read here. McCain has also had his own trouble with endorsements or associations with well known televangelists as well. So, to be fair, it is not just Obama’s church, but has become true of many churches.  All of this has me thinking about the role and place of preaching; about the use and misuse of the pulpit.

It is from the pulpit that we should hear the Word of God expounded and the Gospel extolled. This may include addressing contemporary issues of the day, but what should be front and center is what God has to say through His Word to a broken people in a broken world. Unfortunately the pulpit in many prominent churches is being used for political gain and political advancement. I do believe that Scripture addresses matters of the state and politics, so that it is not so say there is never application and explanation to or of the political arena. What breaks my heart is that there are so many people who could be hearing about the Glories of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they may not even know what they are missing.  There are also some sobering reminders and exhortation for the preacher in Scripture, for example:

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judges with greater strictness.

As preachers, we must always guard our hearts and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we write and ultimately preach. We will always be tempted to say things that our passion instead of the God’s passion. This is why I am advocate of expository preaching (also read an interview with Bryan Chapell on expository preaching). Expository preaching is not foolproof in keeping me from saying my own thing, but it does cause me to start (and hopefully end) in the right place. I am forced to ask “what is God saying through this passage?”, rather than “what do I want to say this week?”.

This principle can even apply to a series. While we typically preach sequentially through a book of the Bible (currently Romans), I am going to do a four week series on leadership. While there are many topics that might be covered or even many good things that I want to say, I am going to preach through four passages for each of four topics:

“Leadership from the Ground” (John 13:1-20)
“Leadership from the Dirt” (John 21:15-19)
July 6th: “Leadership from the Knees” (primarily – I Corinthians 1:1-9; Philippians 1:8-11)
July 13th: “Responding to Leadership” (Hebrews 13:7-19)

Although, I am preaching sequentially through a book, I will preaching through these passages each week.  This, I hope, will keep me focused on what God says, rather than what Adam thinks.

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One response to this post.

  1. Adam,

    Preach it. This perspective is surprisingly rare, I’ve learned.

    Ken

    Reply

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