What kind of preaching stimulates true growth and vibrancy in a local church?
In his book Center Church Tim Keller gives 5 characteristics of preaching for gospel renewal or revival.
1. “Preach to distinguish between religion and the gospel.”
In our preaching we should raise and address the “why?” question in our applications. It is critical that we encourage our listeners to do the right thing for the right reason, or else we may only serve to foster the religious idolatry and self-sufficiency in their hearts. Go after their heart motivations not just their behavior.
2. “Preach both the holiness and the love of God to convey the richness of grace.”
People need to be confronted with the transcendence and immanence of God. They need to know that God is just and must judge their sin. They also need to know that God is love and made provision through Christ to justly judge that sin. Preaching that magnifies God’s holiness and love simultaneously keeps us from pride and despair.
3. “Preach not only to make the truth clear but to make it real.”
The point of preaching is not simply to convey information to our hearers, to add more facts to their repository of religious knowledge. Rather our goal is to impact with those facts. So bring the truth from the text to the surface with clarity, and then drive it home to the heart. Help your listeners experience the truth in high definition.
4. “Preach Christ from every text.”
If we don’t preach Christ, then what will we end up preaching or conveying? We may inadvertently communicate that the Bible is about us. It’s our story, our life, our effort, our Christianity, our church, and so on. But the Bible’s not about us. It’s about God and what he is doing to reclaim his fallen creation through Christ for his own glory.
5. “Preach to both Christians and non-Christians at once.”
Here’s one that needs further exploration and discussion in our day. Are we making the mistake of assuming our church members are true believers? And our we assuming that true believers are beyond the gospel, that they no longer have need of hearing it?
As Keller puts it, “Evangelize as you edify, and edify as you evangelize.”
Question: Which of these characteristics do you think is most critical in encouraging spiritual renewal? Is there anything else you would add?