Guest post by David Dorr
What’s the difference between a great writer and a mediocre one? A great musician and an average musician? A captivating preacher verses a boring one? Mediocre writers, musicians, and preachers all tell us that something is beautiful, but great artists make us feel the beauty. Boring preachers tell us God is wonderful, but great preachers make us wonder at God.
This is not easy to do. Some may understand this principle more intuitively, but I believe everyone who aspires to be great at something can work at this. Fortunately, examples are all around us.
First, Jesus. He never taught people that he had authority. He taught as one who had authority. His teaching had a quality of content and delivery that enraptured the people of Israel. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost made people feel the weight of crucifying Jesus only a few weeks before. I still can’t read James without being driven to evaluate my faith and root out any hypocrisy.
Of course all of those examples are breathed out by the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the quality of the delivery and try to learn from it and, in the Spirit’s power, imitate it. What would happen at your church if your music leader played and sang songs that didn’t just inform the people of God, but gave them the sense of what was proclaimed? Is the musician singing about the love of God? Then what are the songs that ignite the heart to the horror of sin and the passion that drove Jesus to the cross? That is why songs with the chorus, “I want to fall in love with you” fall short. Lead the people to love, where “wanting to” love will be as easy as breathing.
Imagine a preacher who labored not just to get the text correct, but to proclaim the text with the weight it deserves. Not weight in the sense of seriousness, but weight in in whatever sense the text calls for. Does the text call for comfort to the hearers? Then comfort the people, don’t tell them that comfort is available. Does the text warn? Then give us a sense of the horror of disobedience. Does it describe the riches we have in Christ? Then don’t describe benefits, show people they’re wealthy.