The Necessitative Confrontational Nature of Preaching

I spent some time this afternoon answering an email while listening to the Mars Hill Church podcast. This week, teaching pastor Mark Driscoll was speaking to a group of their Acts 29 Network church planters.

If you haven't followed Driscoll, he is a study in contrasts. He is young, hip and uber-reformed (One of his boys' is named Calvin. The other is Zach, so you know he's not name-dropping Calvin and Hobbes). You can read a little about himfrom a Seattle Times article. He speaks of his love for the Word with a tenderness that is moving to hear. At the same time, he's issued more electronic apologies to people than I can count. His favorite targets are the emerging (read - young and liberal) church and those "who preach a Jesus who looks more like some effeminate guy with product in his hair." You can follow his blog and see for yourself.

I like listening to him for two reasons...one is that he obviously enjoys teaching. He has fun doing it and I relate to him on that level. Second, while I don't necessarily agree with him on everything, I admire his backbone, which appears to be made of some sort of titanium alloy. This guy will nail his thesis to the door and stand there while the critics read it.

During the last third of this week's podcast, he addresses the trend of feel-good preaching...the sort of messages that assure you that you're ok, even when circumstance, conscience and your family all insist you're not. It's some good stuff.

I've been bothered recently by the thought of how many people think that Jesus' key message was "Freak not..."...as if His main concern was you being calm. Jesus never saw the paradox in loving people and confronting them with their sin issues. In fact, I think He probably saw them as synonymous. I'm not sure where we got the idea that the Gospel of Peace was a sedative rather than a radical surgical procedure.

I'm thinking specifically of the hyper seeker-sensitive movement, which has moved beyond simple sensativity to flat out seeker paranoia. If you know me at all, you know that I have a huge value for making the truth clear - for using the language of the day to describe the truths of eternity. I am pained, though, by those who claim the same love for the Truth but are quick to adjust truth right along with their communication style.

For much of that movement, Truth has become another knob on the sound board. If it gets too harsh, turn it down. Does the Bible speak about integrity? Of course, but can you preach that some time after April 15th? Does the Bible speak about homosexuality? Yeah, but...turn it down, you're hurting their ears. This sort of truth-as-spandex approach stretches to cover every aberrational behavior, but like most stretched spandex, it ain't pretty, if you know what I'm saying.

Let me encourage those of you who find yourself in teaching roles - whether from behind a pulpit, over a cup of coffee, or at a keyboard...do not shrink back from Truth. Loving people well necessitates that we share Truth boldly, because Truth really is the only friend we have, and It's not going away. In fact, Truth is coming back...and I don't want to be the guy found minimizing it.


Shawna said...

You should write a book!

Kari said...


ChriS & Yvette Ferguson said...

Regarding truth and the extreme sensitivity that attempts to minimize truth-Amen Brother!

Regarding Driscol...he is simply a guy who was catapulted onto a large platform faster than he was ready for. Kinda like puberty and the teenage years when you start to get the body of adult before you have the experience and wisdom of one. But Jesus is faithful and He always finishes the work He begins. Mark has already shown that he can be teachable. He will finish well, course He needs a good dose of Corey Russell to round out his theology!

Kelsey Bohlender said...

And Corey could probably use a good dose of Driscoll -- funny how God intended for all the members to need each other : )

Michelle Van Loon said...

Long time listener...first time caller.

(OK - "Long time" is more like "several weeks" - can't remember how I found your blog, but I'm now a regular reader. Love IHOP and am involved in a local prayer movement north of Chi-town.)

When I came to faith in Christ, what got me was the truth. I wasn't impressed with the gee-whiz earnest attempts to convince me that Jesus was relevant to me. In fact, I was pretty desperate to figure out how to be relevant to HIM. The first time I read John 14:6 ("I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.") it changed my life. He was the truth - He knew the truth about me and loved me anyway. His truth cut me to the bone and exposed my sin. His truth brings healing, forgiveness, and wholeness.

I've followed Mark Driscoll's adventures/misadventures during the last year or so. Thanks for the reminder to pray for him.