Preaching as Profession

When Did Preaching Become Profession?

 

I have a history degree and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence.  I am a published Christian author by Moody and have chaired a national Christian non-profit.  But I didn’t go to bible college or seminary.  Does that preclude me from preaching?

 

In the past several years I have felt an increasing call to perhaps move into preaching.  Those that I have mentioned it to have said, “But you didn’t go to seminary?  You are not ordained.”

 

Disheartened I have frequently just accepted the response sheepishly.

 

I continue to come back to the idea and wonder to myself, “When did preaching become a profession for which school, rather than God, qualifies you?”

 
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From Vincent Van Gogh to You

Before Vincent Van Gogh was a master painter, he was a missionary to the poor in Belgium. Strangely, part of my own journey that involved working for an organization named 'Food for the Hungry' involved my own reading of Van Gogh's letters and his story. He makes sense to me. Maybe he will to you and in him, you may find new color that you didn't notice before.

Prior to succumbing to melancholy, Van Gogh was able to preach and in 1876, he preached a sermon based on Psalm 119:19. Below are his closing remarks from that message:

"Has He not brought us thus far, have we lacked anything, Lord we believe help Thou our unbelief. I still feel the rapture, the thrill of joy I felt when for the first time I cast a deep look in the lives of my Parents, when I felt by instinct how much they were Christians. And I still feel that feeling of eternal youth and enthusiasm wherewith I went to God, saying: "I will be a Christian too." Are we what we dreamt we should be? No, but still the sorrows of life, the multitude of things of daily life and of daily duties, so much more numerous than we expected, the tossing to and fro in the world, they have covered it over, but it is not dead, it sleepeth. The old eternal faith and love of Christ, it may sleep in us but it is not dead and God can revive it in us. But though to be born again to eternal life, to the life of Faith, Hope and Charity, – and to an evergreen life – to the life of a Christian and a Christian workman, be a gift of God, a work of God – and of God alone, yet let us put the hand to the plough on the field of our heart, let us cast out our net once more – let us try once more. God knows the intention of the spirit. God knows us better than we know ourselves, for He made us and not we ourselves. He knows of what things we have need. He knows what is good for us. May He give us His blessing on the seed of His word, that He has sown in our hearts. God helping us, we shall get through life. With every temptation he will give a way to escape.
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Preach the Gospel Always. When Necessary, Use Words: Part 2

A while back I wrote a blog post on the often cited quote, “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary use words,” which is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

The blog addressed a difficult and challenging relationship of Christian proclamation aka word vs demonstration aka deed.

One inquisitive reader raised the following questions:

1) Jesus seems to prioritize his teaching ministry over his “deed” ministry at various points (e.g. Mark 1:35-39, 3:7-19, 4:1-2 and the parallels in the other synoptic gospels).

2) Jesus seems to describe the ‘self-sacrificial’ life of following him to ‘adhering to his words,’ and doing so is for his sake (which is equated to the gospel’s sake) in Mark 8:31-38.

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I Got Nothin'

What do pastors do when Sunday morning is barreling down on them and they realize they have absolutely nothing to say from the pulpit?  Women-in-the-pulpit theology aside, I’m awfully glad I will never be a pastor. The burden to create life-changing sermons week upon week must weigh on a man, especially if he is naturally a shepherd, a hand-on-the-shoulder guy, or just rhetorically average.

Inspiration is a tricky cat. If you believe in the Holy Spirit—and I do—you want to believe that God can zap our intellect, give us supernatural insight, and use his Holy Scriptures to shape our teaching. Yet I’m pretty sure God didn’t deem sacred the seven-day cycle of insights, where the Holy Spirit punches his time clock at certain intervals just in time for the church secretary to print the sermon title every Wednesday for the church bulletin.

Websites and Preaching

Some might think the two crafts have very little in common... But I will be the first to disagree. After co-creating Clover as well as having the privilege of attending Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley with Francis Chan as the teaching pastor, I have realized the common DNA that makes great websites and great preaching. Drum roll please...

Caring about your audience.


I know, I know... You've heard it before. Maybe in seminary or from a mentor. The crazy thing is that, for as easy of a concept as this is, very few people actually do it. This is why sometimes in services you find yourself disconnecting with the pastor and thinking about what's for lunch or who's playing the football game at 1PM.

You'll see the same disconnect when browsing websites poorly created. So often in the web world we have programmers or designers who fancy a certain design style or web language, that when creating a site for a certain audience, have failed to ask the question "What is the best way to communicate to my audience?".

I have been reminded of the discipline of designing and programming for your audience for the past 6 years or so since attending Cornerstone Church and sitting under Francis' teaching. Each week Francis conveys the Word of God clearly, concisely, and in the language of the people. He jokes that he's the Dr. Suess of preachers. Maybe it's time there were less PhD's in pulpits and more Dr. Suess'.

I propose the same for website design. It's time that websites are created for people, not programmers. This begins with asking the question, "How do I communicate best to my audience?" Unfortunately, in both preaching and design, our own tastes and bents have a nasty habit of popping up and distracting us from our ultimate goal of communication. But know that when all is said and done, even if nothing is said beautifully, it is still nothing. So keep it simple, and remember your people.

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