SERMON RATING SYSTEM
There are those who criticize preaching as dead, an archaic, irrelevant waste of time. This is nothing new. The “foolishness of preaching” has never made sense – yet from the prophets, to Jesus and on to the apostles the word of God declared, preached, taught, spoken, defended and verbally announced remains the God ordained way for making known the good news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ – whether midrash, kerygma, didache, homilia, or simple “good newsing” and whether in a boat, by a lakeside, in a house, behind a pulpit or a rented hall, Oddly, the critics of preaching often have no problem blathering on for 45 incoherent, unstructured, minutes of talk about their own self-importance.
Jesus in his parable on the sower and the seed and soil lays the responsibility not on the preacher but on the one hearing and the ability and quality of listening – or as it says in Mt. 13:9 – “Got ears? Then give a listen!” Roger Wagner writes: ‘Scripture says more about the listener’s responsibility to hear, understand, apply, and obey God’s message than about the pastor’s responsibility to preach it. While God holds His ministers accountable for their preaching, He also expects His people to admit and deal with their own deficiencies in listening and responding to God’s Word.’ (Tongues Aflame). Over the years I’ve seem different preaching rating systems – here’s one of my own to help you in your listening – resemblance to any actual preachers living or dead is purely intentional.
PG (Pablum Generic)
Refers to a Bible passage or even quotes it. God or Jesus or people from the Bible are mentioned as inspiring models to be like or as a means to self-improvement and reaching one’s personal goals. Fond of “fill in the blank” or simple step formulas whatever the goal of the week is whether its having a great sex life or maximizing one’s retirement strategy.
Refers to or quotes the Bible but the majority of the message and application is focused on the special interests of pet peeves of the preacher (be they social, political, denominational or theological) so that almost every message whether from the Sermon on the Mount or the Day of Pentecost becomes a denunciation of Hollywood, Washington, the current administration, liberals, conservatives or a collage of snippets from the latest book, movie, blog, MP3 download, Tweet or passing thought (after visiting Starbucks) has come their way. The text having been long forgotten is simply a springboard for the preacher’s brilliance, coolness or spleen venting.
Combines a Holy Spirit dependent balance of sound exegesis, consideration of biblical genre, historical context, theological implications of the whole counsel of God along with personal soul searching, the necessity of repentance and the saving work of Jesus Christ as the answer to the human condition. Like the word of God it flows from the message may be humorous, serious, passionate, profound, moving, reflective, polemic or scandalous. Sure to offend the self-satisfied, self-righteous, and the complacent.
Like Jesus in Nazareth, Stephen in Acts, or Paul in Ephesus, these messages build BBQs for sacred cows, send idols toppling, turn worlds upside down & sends demons packing. May cause riots, civil disturbance, loss of limb, risk of imprisonment or death. It is recommended if planning on delivering such that life insurance plans be full paid or bags packed before delivery. Sure to offend most deacon and elder boards, denominational officials and government representatives.
May God raise up more “R” & “X” rated preachers! And may God give ears to hear.