Gary Millar on preaching

Apologies – these are rough notes – Kutz is also liveblogging

A couple of questions I ask myself as I teach parts of the Bible.

  • Have I pointed people to what God has done for us in Christ as a solution for all our problems?
  • Have I reminded people that when we come back to God we both discover his forgiveness and are set free to live for him?
  • We haven’t preached the gospel if our message is to “be like” someone, or “be good”, we haven’t preached the gospel. Even if it is “be disciplined” we haven’t preached the gospel. These things aren’t wrong in themselves but they are wrong by themselves.
  • Have we pointed people to grace despite our sin?
  • We must give the reasons to live in a way that brings glory or honour to Jesus. The ultimate reason to live a holy life is Jesus Christ himself.
  • The hard work of teaching the Bible comes because we have to work hard to get this message under peoples’ skins. Speech not only conveys information it has other force and purpose. It may be to challenge or encourage, to make us laugh or feel sad – but this comes down to the intention of the speaker.
  • Good exposition invites the listener to feel with the text as well as to think with it.
  • One of the things we need to do is to be thinking that we need to recover the rhetorical impact of the text – we need to encourage people to feel the same way as the original hearers of the text. For example: Amos 1-2 – “you know what really bothers me about our neighbours… you know what really bothers me about you…” as a rhetorical device.
  • Preaching can involve stealth bombing – sometimes we need to surprise people. Working hard to get the text in to their lives will help people to listen.
  • The first 90 seconds is the most important part of a sermon – you’ve got about 90 seconds to convince people to listen (this may be a concession to people’s sinfulness). We need to justify the audience’s decision to keep listening. We must connect with people. We must exegete the listeners. We must speak to the people in front of us.
  • We can’t make general statements on behalf of our audience – “as followers of Jesus we all want to be living for God” – don’t assume the people are anywhere at all.
  • Work really hard at understanding people who aren’t like you. Single people, women, young people, people who come from different cultures and demographics.