As a co-pastor at an English Ministry – I try to read a few books on preaching per year, in the hope that my preaching will slowly improve.
I recently picked up a funny and instructive good by T. David Gordon (I am pretty sure he taught me Intermediate Greek at GCTS – even though I remember falling asleep in some of his classes from my early shifts at UPS :)): Why Johnny Can’t Preach.
[This is an useful book for any pastor – I just don’t see how you could pass this one to your pastor without more or less sending the message that he can’t preach :)].
There are many insights in this book – I will limit this post to his section on “The Annual Review” (pp. 33-34):
“My final argument to prove that preaching is in bad shape today is the annual review – or, to be more exact, its absence. Almost no churches conduct an annual review of the pastoral staff [this is certainly true in Romanian Baptist churches…]…I believe it is absolutely essential for any professional to have an annual review of his labor. Those of us who teach are reviewed; those who work in business are reviewed. Every other realm of labor recognizes the importance of an annual review, in which strengths and weaknesses can be assessed as a means to a more fruitful service in the future…
So why don’t churches routinely conduct annual reviews of their ministers? Because ministers don’t want to be told that their preaching is disorganized , hard to follow, irrelevant, and poorly reasoned; [TRUE – I certainly don’t want/like to be told that…] and because churches do not want to insult their ministers or hurt their feelings.
Therefore, I suggest that the very absence of annual reviews stands as glaring proof that preaching is so bad today that no one – neither the preacher nor the hearer – can tolerate the thought of how painful it would be to provide an honest assessment.”
Hard to argue with T. David Gordon on this one. I am convinced that an annual review of my preaching would hurt…but I believe that it would be for my good and that of the congregation!
Like Abraham (or like the bedouins) – we have been travelling for the past few weeks. Seoul-Beijing-LA…and now Phoenix, AZ. We learn and see new things almost every day, with no chance whatsoever of getting a sane schedule for ourselves or the children. By God’s grace we manage, and we enjoy very much seeing many of our dear friends and family.
We are on our way to North Carolina where we will be spending a good part of the Sabbatical [Sabbatical is misleading! :)]. So, much of our trip is still ahead…New Mexico, Oklahoma City (visiting a beloved cousin)…Nashville (yes Dani we are coming, prepare the fattened [better the ‘lean’] calf) etc.
It is exciting and tiring to travel at the same time, and there are new things to see, old friends to reconnect with, and new friends to make.
I wonder what Abraham’s life was like. I know that it was certainly slower and more predictable, despite the lengthy travels.
If there is no coherence to this message, it is because there is no coherence to my days…2 small boys in the same room (right now they are intentionally crowding in the same bed :)), various errands to run,…I better sign out before the house burns (Isaiah got out of the portable bed and is waving a match before my eyes!)!