In my reading for a preaching class I am currently taking, I am reading John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I have gained immense insight from this book and it has greatly influenced my theology of preaching. There is one particular passage I wanted to share and briefly comment on.
John Piper writes,
Pastors have absorbed this narrow view of gladness and friendliness and now cultivate it across the land with pulpit demeanor and verbal casualness that make the blood-earnestness of Chalmers and the pervading solemnity of Edwards’s mind unthinkable. The result is a preaching atmosphere and a preaching style plagued by triviality, levity, carelessness, flippancy, and a general spirit that nothing of eternal and infinite proportions is being done or said on Sunday morning (The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 51-52).
I wholeheartedly agree with Piper that preachers should strive for gravity in their preaching. This is because the task at hand is enormously serious. There are eternal implications every Sunday morning and the attitude and approach of the preacher should reflect this. The Word of God should never be handled flippantly.
I think this sentiment from Piper is very insightful and highly prophetic of not only preaching in our day, but what preaching will be like if there is not a Reformation-like resurgence of the Word of God. Pastors are often more concerned with pleasing listeners at the cost of losing the thrust of the message of the Bible. The pastor’s demeanor in the pulpit should reflect the task at hand.
The context of any given passage should determine not only the content of the sermon, but also the approach and demeanor of the pastor in preaching the sermon. And most if not all matters of God are massively serious. Honestly, the task of preaching is far too important to view and approach casually or carelessly.
The aim of the game of preaching is to exalt the glory of God and proclaim the message that he has already given. Faithful exposition of biblical texts cannot afford flippancy. All pastors can be guilty of viewing the task of preaching too lightly, and all pastors can afford to be more conscious of all that is at stake on Sunday mornings. The result will be increased dependency on God and his Word.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.