A Fascinating Look at Modern Preaching
Back in 2009 John Piper agreed to be the keynote speaker for the American Association of Christian Counselors’ annual conference. This was not Piper’s normal audience, and most of them had never heard him preach. So what happens when Piper brings his reverent and serious, God-centered, Christ-exalting, message to mainstream American Christianity? The results are fascinating. Actually, it’s painful. Watch the first 5 minutes of his message; they are sure to be the most uncomfortable minutes of your day…
Strange, isn’t it? A man vulnerably confessing sins, and the response of the crowd is laughter.
I believe this speaks to the state of American preaching. The church has become a place of hokey triviality to the point that people don’t have a category for serious confession; they literally don’t know what to do with Piper’s view of Christianity. American Christians have been so conditioned to be entertained by preachers with witty and well crafted sermons that when a preacher is being deadly serious about sin, they just assume the punch line is coming.
There actually is room for laughter within preaching and worship (my particular tradition needs to learn to laugh a bit more), after all joy is distinctively Christian. But there must be room for reverence, lament, and somber confession. And this is where the modern church is profoundly deficient.
The proclamation of God’s holy Word is not a laughing matter; it is a reverent matter. May God renew the gravitas of preaching across our land.