There is something other than sound exegesis, solid hermeneutics, and stellar homiletics that makes good preaching good. Truth be told, sometimes the determining factor behind whether or not a preacher gets a hearing has very little to do with the craft of preaching and very much to do with how well the preacher matches the context in which he/she preaches. For example, there are many people who would say that Charles Stanley, shown on TV all over the country, is a good preacher. While I respect the man’s love for God and his conviction that the bible is God’s word, I quickly change the TV station because I’m not into his preaching. Most of the people in Stanley’s church and most of the people outside of his church who love his preaching tend to be 60 years of age or older. Charles Stanley is a good preacher in his context because he matches his context. Andy Stanley, the son of Charles, is one of my favorite preachers. Andy is about my age and most of the people who attend his church are younger than 40 years of age. Andy is a good preacher because he matches the context of people to whom he preaches. Context is everything!
Why do some preachers attract a growing number of people who come hungry to hear their preaching while other preachers face the pain of a diminishing congregation? Not always, but often, it has everything to do with whether or not the preacher fits with their preaching context. It’s not about whether or not the preacher has a good or bad style but whether or not the style of the preacher is contextualized. The Apostle Paul recognized this which is why he preached differently to Greek Athenians in the town square than he did to Diaspora Jews in the synagogue. Paul realized that our preaching gets heard most when our preaching content and style match the people to whom we preach.
The further I go in ministry the more I realize who I am as a preacher. The more I realize who I am as a preacher the more aware I become of the fact that there are more church contexts I wouldn’t match than ones I would match. When I first began my pastoral ministry 15 years ago I would have been glad to serve as pastor to any group of people any place without a thought to whether or not I was a good fit with the church context. Today, I think I’m a bit wiser (though some might disagree…lol) and I realize that there are some churches that I would not fit in terms of my preaching preferences. I do believe that if you preach the Scriptures with passion, and love God and the people you serve with passion, a pastor can probably survive in ministry anywhere. However, I am convinced that a preacher will thrive most when preaching in a context that is congruent with the preacher.
Share your thoughts on this. Would you agree or disagree?