Commenter Dave makes a fair statement, in the thread on Awesome Manliness and preaching:
"You seem kind of down on pulpit preaching."
Have at me: I think I am kinda down on it. Even the word "pulpit" weirds me out. Seriously. Maybe that's not fair. Just being honest. "Pulpit". Bleh. "Pulpit." Ew. "Pulpit."
But -- and it sounds silly to the ear, but I'll type it, anyway -- I don't think there's anything "wrong" with pulpit-preaching.
Oh, I do think there's something wrong with fostering expert culture, ego trips, lack of equality in the church, stopping people from interacting when ostensibly "gathering", enjoying small (and big) time celebrity, idolizing never-ending knowledge-accrual, limiting those who can contribute, promoting a seeming singular "leader", ear-tickling, confusion about the original public nature of "preaching" in the N.T., and, especially, feigned religiosity.
I do think there's something wrong with those things, but those don't have to come along with pulpit-preaching. They often do, sure (seen it my whole life) but they don't have to, and some humble leaders demonstrate this.
Full disclosure: My dad is a minister. My very cool brother (he's a minister, too, and I used to be one) and I grew up around this stuff.
Does this color my impressions of both the necessity and efficacy of week-in, week-out, in-the-church-building-pulpit-preaching to the same people by the same guy?
Oh, heck yeah.
My family and I went to an all-black church for awhile, before we moved here from Illinois. It rocked. The preacher was incredible, man. Funny! Entertaining! Grounded! Insightful! Well-educated! Mature! Awesome! ...and he talked for two and a half hours!
-- I snuck out every week. After a half-hour, I'd run past the frowning, gloved ushers and across the street to "Strawberry Fields", where I could eat granola and read the NYTimes Book Review. I confess, I can't handle it. I'm sorry. He was great.
"Preaching" in the N.T. is largely a public phenomenon, so far as I can tell.
Preaching in the synagogues --- to Jews; preaching to then non-believers at Pentecost, preaching outside, gettin' busted for preaching, interacting with people all the while, answering questions, responding.
I confess to being a bit confused by the elastic use of the word, but that may be my own lack of biblical knowledge. Maybe preaching was, in the N.T., what it generally is, now: Non-interactive speaking to large groups of the same believers in "church buildings" on a weekly basis.
As a media-type person, I get invited to "preach" sometimes, too. Occasionally, I don't offend everybody, and get asked back.
One recent sermon topic at a big church: "Why Sermons are Overrated". That pastor -- figure this -- asked me back.
Truth is, I don't learn best, I'm not reminded best, by listening to large-group oration. I learn best when I can interact, when I can listen to others interacting, or when I can hit "pause" during a podcast, or when I can go back and re-read that last thing Jesus said that shocked everybody and made me laugh.
Even better: I learn when I'm doing stuff with people, when I'm doing one of those 40-or-so "one-another's" in the N.T. that you can't possibly do in a typical worship service.
That's just me. Your mileage may vary. But here's what's weird: Between the two of us, your preacher's probably more like me than you. Except he's manlier than me. But that's not the point.
He probably won't say, "You should sit in a large group and have someone preach to you on a weekly basis." He probably won't -- at least shouldn't -- say that because he likely doesn't sit in a large group and have someone preach to him on a weekly basis. He listens to podcasts, reads books, interacts with people, does stuff.
LifeChurch.tv is the number one church in America. Not in terms of total attendance, per se, but just in terms of being number one.
Well, duh. But Seacoast behind New Hope? Give me a break. Seacoast's ministries and programs hit me where I live, and New Hope doesn't even have a Giving Kiosk yet. Pffft.
This is why it needs to be settled on the mission field, not on some programmer's PC somewhere in the basement at Saddleback. No way, either, does Andy Stanley's Northpoint Community deserve to drop to #13. Dude is number FOUR in the FGC poll (Outreach Mag's "Fastest Growing Churches") and #3 overall in on the AMIC "innovative churches" ranking. He needs a contract extension, NOW.
And Greg Laurie, God bless you, but you're dropping like a rock at #22.
Osteen is still only #11, which may explain why he runs up the score.
Rule #94 -- Be Awesomely Manlier than Everyone Else
...and so there I was, and Mr. Norris wouldn't even get off the floor. I said to him, "Chuck, it's okay. You lost. But stand up and be a man." And I think he would have, but he was still unconscious.
As I walked away, fist still smarting a bit, I thought about what has become of our culture, and how everyone's become feminized, like Oprah Winfrey, who almost picked me as a life coach one time. And it's now affecting the church, and to fix that, we need awesomely bold people to preach week-in, week-out to pretty much the same people in the confines of our buildings.
I agree with John Piper, who wrote recently that manliness happens when "Preaching is more readily prized, " and "the fear of strong preaching is part of the effeminizing of the church, and the full range of the way God is and appears on the Bible is not known where preaching is simply casual and conversational."
My friend, I won't dance around all girly-like like that and mince words. I'll say it, my way: The church has become too feminized, and the way to rectify it is to make the church sit down, be quiet, and passively listen to awesome people like me.
There's simply nothing manlier than not being able to respond, to just sit there and take it. Women? They have "conversations". But men? That's not us. We sit down in large numbers, in rows, audience-style, listen, and quietly accept. Why? We're men. That's what we do.
Case in point: On the manly blog I linked to, no one is allowed to leave a public comment. No one. Boldness? Hell, yeah. And that's right, I just cussed, like John Wayne in "Rio Lobo" before he shot that one guy, and we need more John Wayne's shooting from the Biblical hip with the Winchester of truth from the pulpit of...something...western-y.
Let's make this simple: Here's a Manliness Quotient list of activities, from Manliest to Girliest:
1) Me, boldly leading you, a leading leader of visionary leaders.
2) You, listening quietly to me boldly leading you.
3) You, teaching conversationally, among people who know you, who are allowed to challenge, ask, clarify, and teach you, too.
I'm in this hotel room, with this awesome plasma screen. And I'm watching the news. And I'm realizing what I'd forgotten: Politics is eveything. All-consuming. Everything MUST relate to politics, and -- naturally - to the presidential race.
So I'm looking for a candidate. The right one. I've made a checklist:
Must have executive experience
Must have successful private-sector experience
Must have a presidential temperament
Must believe he can, after he dies, become God of his very own planet
Must have willingness to work hard for the American people
Must believe Native Americans were cursed with red skin because of their sins
Must work well with congressional leaders
Must aspire to celestial heaven located next to, obviously, the star Kolob
Must believe Jesus and Satan are brothers
Must have some cool underwear with freemasonry symbols and stuff
Must believe single guys will eventually die and become, at best, angels with custodial-type tasks, not gods, because they didn't get married
Must at least highly suspect there are human beings living on other planets. Not just life on other planets -- actual humans
Must believe his wife will eternally -- literally, for all eternity -- be getting pregnant and giving birth to millions of spirit-children, thanks to his celestially virile self
Must refuse to answer questions about personal beliefs, deferring quickly to church leaders of the church that believes itself the only church, and that all other churches are of the Devil
My generous, and generously-tattooed, friend Shawn gave me Jim and Casper Go to Church. It's about Jim, and Casper, and how they go to church and stuff.
Jim's a pastor with 30 years experience. Casper's a friendly atheist. They visit all sorts of churches, like Willow Creek and Lakewood and Saddleback and some other places with awesome fog machines and crying orators and killer rock bands and whiz-band programs and lobby waterfalls and million dollar cameras and stuff.
Casper keeps earnestly asking, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?"
Jim's says it's a difficult question, but you know what?
Hope you enjoyed this book review. I just saved you $16.99.
Boy, this is a nice hotel room! I'm in Nashville (Music City!) for work, and this morning I'm chillin, in a manner not unlike a villain with a gold-tooth filllin!
It's awesome to just chill, finally! All by myself! Not do anything! I'm just in this here nice hotel room, and man, the freedom is awesome!
Here's my agenda thus far!
6:05 a.m. -- Wake up and just kick back with nothing to do whatsoever! Woo!
6:15 a.m. -- Lose will to live.
Turns out, I like being at home because I like Carolyn, and Justice, and Julia. They're cool people. I like them.
I do have one of those huge TV's in my awesome suite. And I'm catching up on the TV news! It's cool to catch up!
Apparently, Kobe Bryant still wants to be traded, but the Lakers' front office is quarreling about a potential trade, and Kobe is somewhat ambivalent about it, but his feelings seem to be unchanged, and that's troubling teammates, and also the entire state of California is on fire, and Kobe went 4 for 15 last night.
Experts picked "Purple Rain" as the greatest movie sountrack, ever. It beat "Saturday Night Fever", and even "Hard Day's Night", which were both pivotal works, obviously, according to "Vanity Fair", and also California is on fire, and Britney's getting visitation rights to her kids, and the state of California has finally solved its illegal immigration problem by burning to the ground, and "Kid Rock" just got arrested at Waffle House.
I'll keep you posted. This is awesome.
I seriously just saw this commercial where the guy and his wife are celebrating to "It's the most wonderful time of the year" because the kids just went back to school. I don't get it. BTS was like, two months ago, for one. And two, why don't you like your kids? What's the matter with you people?
Because there's nothing more fun than forcing people to look at your own photo albums, here's an online version.
I can't force you to look at it. I can't even force myself to think you'd want to. But here it is.
Oh, the places you'll go!