Just like there are different makes of cars, there are different philosophies of preaching. There are some who pride themselves on being pastoral, ensuring people are lifted up. There are others who are fiery and prophetic, trying to spur people to action. There are others who see the preaching moment as a sort of group counselling, helping people to cope with the problems of the day.
And just like there are different models of cars, there are different styles of preaching. Some are storytellers and some are didactic teachers. Some are dramatic re-enactors, while others stand as one who is giving a TED Talk.
Regardless of the philosophy of the style there is one thing that most preachers say every week and to not say it would lead to a short ministry at that place:
Most preachers, most of the time can only say the thing that people want to hear.
That is to say most of time preachers cannot say the thing that people disagree with. Of course preachers say things all the time that people disagree with, but if that preacher has also been at that setting for a long time, it is in part because that preacher most of the time says the things the people want to hear. One can see why Jesus, and many other spiritual teachers, are driven from their hometown or an area after a while of preaching/teaching things that people don't want to hear.
I have heard it said that people want to be challenged by the preacher each week. I have heard it said that people want to learn something each week. These may all be true. However, if the preacher challenges too much or challenges too strongly held convictions or if the preacher teaches something that contradicts core values - you can be sure most people will not put up with it for too long. They will leave. They will find a new church. They will split and start a new church. They will not attend church.
You just don't hear a preacher very often say things like:
- I don't believe this or that.
- There is no way this is factually true.
- Some Sundays, and other days, I think what I am saying is BS.
- Many times I doubt this whole resurrection thing and wonder if there is nothing more.
- I fear death or purposelessness or being alone or being forgotten or ....
- Some of the things the Universal Church does is garbage.
I have wanted to say some things like those above, but rarely have the courage to do so in the pulpit. Because I know that for the most part my job as a preacher is not to challenge but to reassure that what we say we believe is true.
If you find a preacher who on Easter Sunday proclaimed, "Yea, I just really have a hard time that death does not have the final word." Let me know.