As preachers in the twenty-first century, we are given the task of the missionary translating the ancient message of the Scriptures into the language of a pluralistic, post-Christian, post-everything culture. This is an important and difficult calling.
But often we do the opposite. We speak the same foreign language we have been and expect outsiders to adapt instead of walking out the back door.
"We have made the gospel foreign to other cultures by asking people to convert to our culture to become Christians." - Paul Hiebert
The preacher is called to preach the unchanging truth in new and different ways as he speaks to the people he is trying to reach. And he doesn’t that simply in the words he uses, in realizing who he preaches to, and in connecting that message to Monday morning.
Avoid using words they can’t understand.
Martin Luther said that when he preached he aimed at the youth in the church, not the highly educated. He wasn’t interested in impressing the adults with his extensive biblical knowledge and understanding of Greek and Hebrew. He wanted them to hear a clear and simple message of grace.
When we translate ancient truths into everyday language we have to become craftsman with our words. We carefully choose words that will connect with the hearer to ancient message in words that they understand.
Preach doctrine to people.
There’s this crazy idea that occasionally floats around that doctrine doesn’t matter. That’s ridiculous. But I bet there’s a reason that people come to that conclusion. Because the people that seem to care the most about the doctrinal debates aren’t normal people.
Doctrine matters but we preach to normal people. And normal people aren’t interested in who is right and who is wrong, they are interested what it means for them.
Charles Spurgeon once said that we are called to feed God’s sheep, not his giraffes. There is no way to preach the Bible without preaching doctrine. It would be silly to preach the Bible and ignore any distinctions that are unique to your particular denomination; embrace those fully and give it to people in a way they can understand.
Connect to Monday.
Preaching isn’t solely about what happens on Sunday morning. It is about what happens on Sunday - God’s work for us as we hear from his word. But it is also about Monday morning.
Preaching should be for ordinary people in a language they can understand with a theology that matters for the life they live.
As churchgoers, we love to show up to church on a Sunday morning and leave behind everything we heard once its lunchtime. But if we really want our people hearing the message and embracing it, we should be preaching a message with hopes that it follows them home.
The message should follow them home into their daily dying to sin and being reminded of forgiveness. And the message should follow them home as it calls them to fulfill their vocations. When we think that the sermon is just about what happens when we gather at church, we ignore the people we preach to and their calling to be the church in their homes, communities, and workplaces.