Man, I really liked Mark Driscoll before. I loved his ability to communicate truth clearly and fiercly. I can’t wait to see how God continues to use him as a man pursuing not only orthodoxy with strength and conviction, but also growing in humility. Not only is this video just a great 5 minute gut-level reality check for myself, it is also probably one of the most powerful forms of public repentance I’ve seen or experienced. Enjoy!
Disclaimer – I am a big fan of expository preaching, and do not believe it is a pointless task. I ask this only because I’m wrestling with how to construct and deliver sermons. I’m used to the style that packages a Biblical text into a nice and neat 25 minute speech, complete with nice picturesque illustration (or, human interest accounts, for the homiletically well-versed), but find myself drawn to preachers like Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll (who quite affectionately referred to a 25-minute sermon as an “introduction”) who sometimes seem to just open up the Bible and “talk it out”.
Yet, I can see and understand the opposite spectrum that says that passive listening is the least effective form of delivery for transformation – which is after all the aim of Biblical, Expository Preaching.
So what is the best way to communicate God’s Word from the pulpit (or music stand, coffee table, whatever you use)? I found this post a bit interesting in teasing out some of these thoughts. Here’s something that stood out to me as interesting, and you tell me if it has any merit.
What I have since discovered is that lecturing a passive audience for 20 to 40 minutes, what Doug Pagitt calls “speeching,” has been repeatedly proven to result in a very low retention of content. Likewise, adult education experts testify, along with a multitude of unregenerate pew sitters, that passive learning rarely transforms values. Does this mean we should abandon instruction in the church? Of course not. After all, we are commissioned to teach people to obey everything Christ commanded. It simply means traditional preaching is not the best medium for skill training and instruction.
But preaching is wonderfully designed for the prerequisite component of Willard’s spiritual formation model—vision. Preaching this way will not always have the end goal of application, but rather inspiration. As Willard says, “It’s the beauty of the kingdom that Jesus said was causing people to climb over each other just to get in.” Only after people have a vision of God (the love, beauty, justice, and power of his kingdom) will they be ready to intentionally seek and employ the means to experience him through obedience—an aspect of spiritual formation that occurs most effectively in smaller settings through the medium of relationship.
Colin Hansen has an article for CT about The Gospel Coalition. Its a good excerpt, and worth reading to understand what I think is an exciting and important trend for the shaping of future ministry, particularly in the U.S. Here are a couple of good quotes (from Keller, yes!), but do go read the rest of the article (click here).
“I want to see more churches and leaders joining hands across denominational and network lines to think out how to do effective mission based on the historic, classical understanding of the gospel as it has come down to us from the Reformation and through the Awakenings.”
“If we seek service rather than power, we may have significant cultural impact,” the statement says. “But if we seek power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”-Tim Keller
I needed to hear this yesterday, as I skipped out on some lectures to finish up a Word Study Paper. I slipped into one of the afternoon sessions, where the speaker was talking about Pastoral/Ministerial priorities, when he mentioned this book. What a great quote!
“Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day? Surely this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks. Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unread books haunted by quiet moments when we stop to evaluate what we have accomplished. We desperately need relief.
But would that longer day really solve our problem?”
– Charles Hummel, The Tyranny of the Urgent
I know the extra time wouldn’t help – I’d still be a stressed out, anxious wreck right up to the last minute before the assignment is due. But what I needed yesterday wasn’t “quiet moments”, but loud, rowdy moments with my wife and two children climbing all over me, wrestling, tickling each other and laughing to get some of my priorities re-aligned. I was struck through this speaker, and this quote, to something I heard Mark Driscoll mention on a talk given to church planters about there are really only 7 things anybody can really focus on in life – 7 priorities. What amazed me was that he listed the responsibility of being a pastor at number 5. After you know that you’re alive and healthy, connected to God, loving and in love with your wife, and loving and shepherding your children, then its time to tackle your responsibilities as a pastor.
To any and all who will be reading this book (including myself), Driscoll and the guys at Crossway are offering a pre-order deal on his new book, Vintage Jesus, which includes a 35% discount, free PDF copy and potentially “autographed” copy (yeah, yeah – I don’t know what I think about autographed books anyway, but its part of the deal, so I’ll mention it). Don’t hold me to the details, check them out for yourself here or over at The Resurgence site.
For anyone who isn’t really aware of who Mark Driscoll is, this is a really good article that gives you a good look at the history of his church Mars Hill, as well as some of his background as well as some recent controversies. Check it out here.
This is a quote from Tim Keller’s chapter in the upcoming book The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, from Crossway publishing. It’s being compiled from the sessions of this past Desiring God conference, and just this quote alone is enough to guarantee that I’m buying and reading it. Excellent topic, great thinkers and men who love Jesus and His world – what more could you ask for!
Here’s the quote, but know that over at the Desiring God blog, you can read a larger excerpt from Keller’s chapter: On Gospel Humiliation
“…unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may say you believe the gospel of grace but, as we said above, the penny hasn’t dropped. You aren’t a sign of the gospel yourself. You don’t have the Jonah principle working in you. You aren’t a strength-out-of-weakness person. God will have to bring you low if he is going to use you in evangelism.”
National Resurgence Conference 2008: Text & Context
This really looks like it will be a good conference. I hope to make it out there, but if not, the uploaded resources should be very useful in ministry and thinking about the role of preaching in any given context.
Looks good. Great topic worth some great discussion. I’m particularly looking forward to the interaction on this topic among the speakers, especially the thoughts of John Piper and Mark Driscoll (You can check out Piper’s recent comments about “contextualizing the gospel” here).
I know that Driscoll and his crew are usually really good about posting their content on the web for free, but I was kicking myself in the shins for missing the last conference (Reform and Resurge ’06), so if I can make the finances work for the plane ticket and registration (which is only $99), then I’m going to bounce out there to Seattle and juggle my studies those weeks, because I think it will be worth it.
Here’s some brief info on the conference with a link to the schedule and more info over at The Resurgence site.
Nation Resurgence Conference 2008: Text & Context
Understanding the text of Scripture and the context in which we live are essential in preaching the gospel today. This is true whether you are a preaching pastor or a Christian that wants to reach your co-worker/neighbor. Joining us for the Resurgence Conference will be Dr. John Piper, author and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN; Mark Driscoll, author and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA; Matt Chandler from The Village Church in Dallas, TX; as well as Jim Gilmore author and business consultant with expertise on studying the culture and trends of today. This conference will also combine the Acts 29 Network Church Planting Boot Camp which will be open for attendees of the National Resurgence Conference. Cost is $99 per individual.
Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions
Chapter 1 Is Jesus the Only God?
Chapter 2 How Human Was Jesus?
Chapter 3 How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?
Chapter 4 Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
Chapter 5 Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?
Chapter 6 What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?
Chapter 7 Did Jesus Rise from Death?
Chapter 8 Where Is Jesus Today?
Chapter 9 Why Should We Worship Jesus?
Chapter 10 What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?
Chapter 11 What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?
Chapter 12 What Will Jesus Do upon His Return