The pulpit is a very dangerous place. Preach badly and you are guilty of making God’s word sound dull and ineffective. Do it well and immediately the ego is in danger of deadly pride. Some of us are called to walk this dangerous tight rope on a regular basis. Dangers aside, if we are called to preach we should endeavour to do it well.
So, what makes for good preaching?
Good preaching should be RAP–relevant, accurate, and passionate. (Remember, you heard it here first.)
Good preaching should be relevant. When people assemble to hear the Word preached, they are not there to gain more head knowledge about the Word. They want to hear the voice of the living God speak to them as they struggle with the deep existential questions of their lives. They want to feel the divine word “pierce so deeply that it divides
soul, spirit, joints and marrow”Hebrews 4:12b REB. They want to hear a timely word from the timeless word.
Good preaching must also be accurate. Relevance that is not based on accurate interpretation of the Scriptures has no divine authority. God has spoken to us through specific historical situations and in specific languages. God”s authoritative Word is preserved for us in the canonical Scriptures. Good preaching must expound what that objective word means for our times. A preacher must be one who “correctly explains the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15b NLT.
And good preaching must be passionate. After all our faith is a faith of blood and fire. Like Jeremiah, we feel the Word as fire in our bones (Jeremiah 20:9). We speak on behalf of YHWH bringing words of life and death. Even allowing for the different personalities of different preachers every preaching event should be a burning bush where people are addressed by the living God and know they must take off their shoes.
Good preaching then must be RAP–relevant, accurate and passionate. Who is sufficient for such a task? Our adequacy is of the Lord, the Lord who is crazy enough to speak through mere mortals.