Am i weird?

not really sure how to title this post, so i’ll do it after i write…

last night i went to a christmas celebration/fund raising banquet for a well-known ministry here in the metroplex.  the founder and namesake of the ministry is a high profile pastor, author, preacher, executive, and church leader.  his ministry is world wide and his influence for the gospel and the cause of christ is profound.

although i know little of his church background, theology, or personal life history, i find him to be engaging and his ministry, at least from the view i have, to be one of integrity.  but that’s not what i’m writing about this morning.

after the catered meal and special music (that’s another story for another time), this pastor got up to address the two-three thousand of us that were seated in the grand ballroom of the convention center.  it was his opportunity to thank all of his regular supporters and future donors to the special ministry project they were highlighting.

as he began to speak, it was obvious he had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  he is folksy, home-spun, and very “good-ole boy”.  his face is animated.  his hand and facial gestures were sincere and fully integrated into what he was saying.  he was incredibly funny.  his “down home” one-liners never seemed rehearsed.  he was self-deprecating in a hilarious way.

the first 20 minutes of his presentation was obviously the warm up for the main show.  when it was time to get serious, he rolled up his speaking sleeves and went to work.  he spoke passionately.  he was a wordsmith.  he wove stories with theology.  he spoke boldly and with conviction.  he cried.  he yelled (not in anger).  his voice inflection changed with a pace that was no accident, but didn’t seem contrived.  people were glued to the jumbotrons on either side of the massive room.

his presentation was full of drama.  it was emotive.  he never looked at a note.  he never seemed at a loss for words.  even though parts of the message seemed like he was just talking with friends, other parts seemed like a presidential address.  he spoke with absolute authority.  he is a deeply gifted communicator.  he is skilled in the art of preaching.

here’s what i was thinking, tho…  it seems like a lot of christians like this style of preaching.  loud.  dramatic.  authoritative.  emotive.  i don’t.  i never have.

i tend to watch guys that preach with drama and animation (hands, voice and body) and get sidetracked from the content of what they are speaking about.  on top of that, i really wonder how people who are skeptical of the gospel respond to this kind of presentation?

where did we get this model of preaching?  is it biblical?  is is cultural?  is it a tradition that has been passed down from church leader to church leader through the ages?  even our greatest public communicators don’t speak like these preachers do.

how about you?  what do you think of preaching?  what do you connect with?  more importantly, what do you think your skeptic friends would connect with?

just thinking…

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5 thoughts on “Am i weird?

  1. I personally like down to earth people. People that do not have to put on a show to speak about their faith. It’s wrapped up in their actions, conversations and their lifesongs. That speaks to me. I can relate when you speak to me about how life throws you curveballs, splitters and even sometimes high and tight. I don’t need theatre I need the Truth and how it affects me.

  2. I didn’t see this post, which a little more specific.

    I think what you are describing here is a lot like the common model for drama – movies and literature – rising action is interspersed with tension and comic relief but is always building to a dramatic climax. Subconsciously, I think we are all used to that model because it is common to entertainment, so it probably is comfortable for many people. For me, personally, even when the message is true, too much orchestrated emotion can be a little distracting. I am glad, however, that there are sincere preachers who have mastered this model and use it to reach massive audiences because it is the language of media. Some people are only connected through media, so for them, it is effective. (I know someone who only “does church” through television.) Also, some Christians are energized by high emotion.

    I would think for skeptics, (those who are really “unchurched”) however, a more natural approach would be much better because there is always a distance created between a performer and the audience. The viewers may love the performance, but that doesn’t mean they can relate. That distance has to be bridged in other ways. I imagine that is why modern churches emphasize small groups so extensively. People have to see that the gospel is relevant to their everyday lives, and they see that through real people. A polished performance may work well to reinforce and add to what believers already know because they have seen and experienced God in their lives. The information is being repackaged, refined, made memorable. For those who lack that experience, however, I imagine the performance would simply remain a performance, like a movie or other show, with little application to real life.

  3. i love the preaching style that you just described. it sounds like this man (who you said appears to be full of integrity and a commitment to god and ministry) has spent lots of time and effort to be the best that he can be. i think it’s effective and i think that it’s a style that is demonstrated in the bible (matthew 23, acts 17).

    i also think that kristi is right when she says that the preaching style is like current media, so i actually think that it would be more palpable to the average person, skeptic or no.

    however, it’s obvious from this post and comments that everyone has a different tendency or preference when it comes to how they like to be addressed. i think that it’s probably important for me to pay most attention to the content and less attention to the style.

  4. “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word…”

    Mike and I were in one of these churches in Corpus Christi for awhile and left to go to a smaller church whose model is more like NP. The messages seemed to be lacking in the depth we needed beyond the current situation AND there was that distance, even though we were serving in the church, between leaders and the led.

    Even though I wasn’t comfortable here and just felt like part of a quota to meet the goal of getting into the “top” churches, I have always seen each church as necessary for someone somewhere. Although there are some churches I am not comfortable in, don’t identify with, the style either bores me, drains me, irritates or yes, even angers me at all of the “religionese” used. I imagine my skeptic friends would respond in the same varied ways as I do to various styles of preaching.

    But the truth is – not every church is a good for each person inside of the Body of Christ. It is as if the churches represented ARE the different bodies of Christ.

    When I think about other churches in that way – I see NP as a hand church. We are focused on and always seem to be working and serving.

    Other churches have another function to them…but we are all part of one Body of Christ all meant to work together to glorify God.

    When we do – it’s awesome…and when we don’t…divisive.

  5. “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word…”

    Mike and I were in one of these churches in Corpus Christi for awhile and left to go to a smaller church whose model is more like NP. The messages seemed to be lacking in the depth we needed beyond the current situation AND there was that distance, even though we were serving in the church, between leaders and the led.

    Even though I wasn’t comfortable here and just felt like part of a quota to meet the goal of getting into the “top” churches, I have always seen each church as necessary for someone somewhere. Although there are some churches I am not comfortable in, don’t identify with, the style either bores me, drains me, irritates or yes, even angers me at all of the “religionese” used. I imagine my skeptic friends would respond in the same varied ways as I do to various styles of preaching.

    But the truth is – not every church is a good for each person inside of the Body of Christ. It is as if the churches represented ARE the different bodies of Christ.

    When I think about other churches in that way – I see NP as a hand church. We are focused on and always seem to be working and serving.

    Other churches have another function to them…but we are all part of one Body of Christ all meant to work together to glorify God.

    When we do – it’s awesome…and when we don’t…divisive.

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