Received this post from both Buzzard’s own blog and Moody Publishing.
The point is one I continue to need to work on in preaching.
The answer is always ‘Jesus’, but there’s a skill in trying to help people see that their how their lives are asking a question that he alone can answer.
I don’t necessarily unpack that as clearly as I’d like.
Everybody in your city has a story. Preaching is your opportunity to share the Bible in a way that engages each one. But how do you do this with both Christians and non-Christians at your service? Effective preaching is preaching directed at both the people who are already part of your church and people in your city who are not yet part of any church. Story is the key to engaging both of these audiences well. If you can connect with each person’s story, challenge it, and recast it with your preaching, your Sunday gatherings will be increasingly filled with people who are following Jesus and people who aren’t.
Step 1: CONNECT WITH THEIR STORY
It is natural for most pastors to connect their preaching with other Christians, but they must also connect their preaching to the very different storylines inhabited by the non-Christians in their community. If you’re not yet doing this, now is the time to start. Start preaching each week as though there are non-Christians in the room, even if there aren’t. You will learn to do this better by having non-Christian friends and by knowing the pulse of your city. Eventually, non-Christians will start coming—the Christians they know will invite them because they know your preaching will speak to them.
Step 2: CHALLENGE THEIR STORY
After you connect to the storyline non-Christians are living in your city, challenge it. Use your preaching to show how the story has a bad ending—how faith in atheism, success, power, etc.—leads to disappointment instead of freedom and joy. This isn’t just a technique. This is a way of preaching that grows from a heart that wants to know and love the diverse people in your city who are far from God.
Step 3: RECAST THEIR STORY
After connecting with and challenging the non-Christian storyline, retell people’s story with the happy ending found only in the gospel and the particular text you’re preaching. For example, if you’re preaching John 10:10 in Los Angeles, a city obsessed with image and fame, you can show people that the abundant life, love, and excitement they’re searching for is found only in Jesus—the One who laid down his life and fame in order to give us true life. Such preaching is relevant to non-Christians, but it also equips the Christians in the room to better understand their faith and how to thoughtfully share it with others.
Everyone on the planet believes some sort of story to make sense out of their life. Only the story of the Bible is big enough to make sense out of both the beauty and the brokenness in people’s lives.