Golfers have a bag full of clubs. If they’re teeing off they’ll use a wood. If they’re in the bunker they’ll use a wedge. And if they’re on the green they’ll use a putter.
It’s just the way of golf. Certain clubs are more effective for certain types of shots. Can you imagine teeing off with a wedge? Chipping with a wood? Or driving with a putter? It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just that there’s much better clubs for the job.
Preaching is like golfing.
Why? It’s simple. The aim of golf is to move the ball closer to the hole, and the aim of preaching is to move people closer to Jesus. But it doesn’t stop there.
I want to suggest that certain clubs (or certain types of preaching) will be more effective than others, depending on where people are at in relation to Jesus. It’s not that you can’t move them forward without the right club, it’s just that you might not do it as effectively as you could have.
So ask yourself, where is my audience?
Are they on the green? these guys want to know the Bible and obey it (mostly). All you’ve gotta do is tell them what it says! Work through a book, stick with the passage, and teach them to read it for themselves. E.g. Luke 24:44-45.
Are they on the fairway? these guys have bought in, but they’re not quite there yet. They need a combination of oomph and accuracy. Throw in some apologetics, slow down and explain things, and don’t be afraid to stray from the passage if it helps fill in the gaps. E.g. Acts 17:2-4.
Are they in the rough? these guys are stuck. They probably need a specific topic, rebuke or challenge put to them. Don’t be afraid to yell. Or perhaps be tender? Maybe you need to preach a topical sermon. What’s going to get them out of the rough and moving forward? E.g. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
Are they teeing off? these guys haven’t even started. They’re cold and they don’t care what the Bible says. Needless to say, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Wet their appetite, pick a gospel passage, give them one big idea and keep it simple. E.g. Acts 17:22-31.
Verse by verse exegetical sermons that work through books of the Bible are one type of club. They’re an excellent club (they’re my bread and butter), but they may not always be the best club. It all depends on where your people are at.
So next time you visit a church, a conference or podcast a sermon, ask yourself three questions before jumping to critique the preacher:
- What club does he think he’s using?
- What club is he actually using?
- What club should he be using?
If all three questions get the same answer, he’s nailing it. And ‘shock horror’, it might not be the club you’re used to. So what? Get over it and praise Jesus for a faithful preacher!
Question: What other clubs are there? Have you unfairly criticized a preacher for not using your favourite club? Leave a comment by clicking here.