Preaching is an intriguing exercise. I suspect if you asked most people what they think of preaching the answers may move dramatically across the scale. Many people simply see it as getting yelled at. Others see it as a motivational message stirring them on in their Christian life. (I’ve not met those people, but I’m certain they are out there.)
Here is what strikes me as the irony of preaching. If it is evangelistic in nature, often it is forceful and direct. If it is discipling in nature, it can take a more teaching-tone. All dependent on the preacher of course. Some can’t help but yell. Others find that communication in worship seldom needs forceful speech.
I am not certain I know anyone who enjoys being yelled at or talked to, in any context. But I do know many people who hunger to be taught what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Even when you read the sermons of Peter or Paul, there is never a sense that they are being boisterous. Firm, intent, direct, even passionate, but not one of those requires a “preachy” tone.
I am currently reading a book by N.T. Wright entitled “Following Jesus – Biblical Reflections on Discipleship.” It is in fact a series of sermons. There are times I can almost see him delivering these messages to his predominately English congregation. Then I think, most people in America would walk out after one of these and dare say they were “boring.” Implying, if they have not been exhorted by loudness, they have not heard a sermon. What a pity.
Enthusiasm and passion attract me just like they do other people. These are hard emotions to manufacture regardless of how loud one might get. However, they do issue from an intimacy with the text and an identification of it’s teaching. Those two points require only that you share it with me genuinely. I will respond.