It’s the challenge that I often raise with people when I’m preaching. If God is real and his word is true then are you ready for him to disagree with you. It was the challenge that Mike Ovey left us with as students and it has stuck with me. If this is true, then it must be a question not just for church members and students but for preachers, pastors and the most Phd’d up scholars you can find.
When did God last disagree with me? When did he challenge me and say “Something’s got to change?” It was last Monday night. We were meeting as a mission’s group to talk about how the budget should be allocated. Then someone said ” Do people really get and care about world mission?”
We talked about how we can encourage people to see Missions as important. We can have lunches, guest speakers,a missions board etc. But something was bothering me. ” Do you think that a passion for world mission comes across in our preaching?” I asked?
There was a pause. Then the group members one by one said “not really.” It was perhaps the most honest, painful and helpful preaching feed back I’ve had ( I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a future post). Then the boot went in (lovingly) ” So it’s your fault then?”
But more than a bit of preaching feedback and much more than just some strategic thinking from a committee, God was challenging me and disagreeing with me. Although we didn’t have a Bible open at that point, my mind was very much in Scripture and the story of the Missionary God who sent his Son, sent the Holy Spirit and sends us. I realised that if that doesn’t come across then really the greatness, beauty, glory and delight of the Gospel isn’t coming across.
It’s not that we need more missionary lunches, guest speakers, newsletters. It’s that we need to be captivated by God’s wonderful outpoured, ever flowing fountain of grace not just to us but to all nations.
I suspect that this will do something else for our preaching and our church life. It will correct any tendency to introversion where the focus is just on what is happening here and it will guard against preaching being simply therapeutic – a kind of self-employed help manual.
Hopefully it will give us a greater sense of wonder and delight in the good Godd a greater confidence in his sovereign grace and a greater love for him and for the most.
Nb. If I could suggest one book that really captures a pastor- preacher’s heart passion for World Mission it would be ” Let the Nations be Glad” by John Piper