I believe that the preacher has two duties:to teach the people how to read, and to teach the people how to think. By reading, I don’t mean the ability to look at letters and turn them into words and sentences, but the ability to look at words and sentences and understand the context and subtext, to read critically. And by thinking, I don’t mean the ability to think approved thoughts, but the ability to take approved thoughts and evaluate them according to an ultimate standard.
I’m always dismayed when I go to hear a sermon and I hear words being read, but no Reading being done, thoughts being recommended for adoption, but no Thinking bring demonstrated. It does no good to convey truths to a people like a black box, and give them no hope of learning how those truths actually integrate. How then when other preachers come and authoritatively hand out more attractive untruths?
It’s as though a soldier was added to the roster of a military unit, and was subjected every week to his captain and first sergeant demonstrating on his behalf all the skills of a great soldier, but was never trained to perform those skills himself. How then when he deploys? How when he is promoted will he handle increased responsibility?
I don’t remember, growing up, if I was subject to good preaching on Sunday mornings. I remember a few really good pastors, but I also remember moving a lot. What I did have was a mother who was faithful to teach me doctrine, and recordings of great preaching, and an excellent library. We had lots of theological conversations growing up. We probably had a lot of conversations that no other family would have. I’m always running into situations where a friend learns, as an adult or a reasonably mature Christian, something that was part of normal conversation when I was a kid. (Of course, I’m also always filling in lots of gaps.) My point is that I was taught to read and I was taught to think. Oh boy was I taught!
God has ordained two primary channels for Christian education: the parents and the preacher. Every other role is a supporting role. And it’s the preacher’s job to train the parents. My mom did her job, and an excellent one. But not every Christian gets an excellent mom. How much more then does the preacher have a heavy responsibility to teach the people every week to do more than just listen?
Kevin DeYoung has a nice article up on why you should think before you post. I thought it was helpful.
This is actually why I don’t blog much anymore.
First, there are too many people that I feel obliged not to speak poorly of in public. I don’t want to reflect poorly on my wife, my kids, my extended family… Worst of all, due to my job, I don’t want to reflect poorly on the United States Government. Do you have any idea how difficult that is?
But secondly, I want to say things that are worth reading. Less flippant, rather than more. I don’t want to say something that somebody else has already said, unless I can say it even better. I don’t want to say anything better left unsaid. I don’t want to say anything important that hasn’t been sufficiently thought through.
Currently, I find that I have plenty of time for shallow and summary reading, plenty of time to go, “huh!”, but not much time for thorough reflection. So I find that I have plenty to share from other people, but not much to say of my own. That’s not because I don’t have much to say, but I don’t have the time to say it in the way that I would like.
As a result, the blog often gets left untended. Facebook and Twitter become my friends. Facebook has much better link sharing, for instance. And for a time, that may be okay.
Apparently I’m not the only one to see the comparison between music training and math drills.
Really. The goal in life is to think about things that are difficult, work through them and turn them into habits, so that you can think about something else for a change.