There was a pastor I listened to during the early days of my ministry. I really enjoyed his preaching. And I would commend him to other preachers.
This pastor was not well-known to many of the preachers I talked to. And they would ask me what his preaching was like.
“He can say it,” I would respond, “if you catch him right.”
A friend gave me a lot of tapes of this pastor over the years. Some of the messages were stellar examples of Bible exposition. Others, not so much. He sometimes used the text to make a point the text was not actually saying. Other times he would preach Charismatic ramblings. On one tape, he admitted to making false prophesies in the past. At that point, I asked my friend not to give me any more tapes of this pastor.
Yet, when he decided to preach the text, it was exceptional. If you caught him right, he could preach. I didn’t see any problem with this qualification, because it was honest.
Until someone asked an obvious but stunning question: “What if you don’t catch him right?”
Cue the crickets.
I stopped commending this pastor. I change my view of good preaching. And I started to check myself.
I don’t want people to have to catch me right. This has nothing to do with how clever the message is. It has nothing to do with how smooth my presentation may be. And it has nothing to do with how the congregation responds. It has everything to do with how I handle the word of truth. I want to get it right every time I stand to preach.
A faithful preacher must be consistent. It is not enough to get it right now and then. Who cares if you know how to preach the word if you choose not to for whatever reason? That’s treason. It’s prostitution. It’s just plain wrong.
There’s a word for a man who is only faithful to his wife when you catch him right: UNFAITHFUL!
The congregation should not have to catch us right for us to faithfully preach the scriptures. If we do not have the text right, we should not get in the pulpit until we do. And we should not compromise once we get there. The crowd, event, or atmosphere must not be an excuse to compromise your charge to preach the word.
There may be times when the preacher does not catch the congregation right. After all, preaching is out of season at some times and in some places. Some people would rather hear an ear-tickler, rather than a gospel herald. But it should never be said that the congregation did not catch you right.
Your people should not wonder what they are going to get from you from week to week. Strive to be as clear, compelling, and creative as you can. But not at the expense of the truth. Sure, you shouldn’t have to choose between truth and passion. But if I had to choose, I would rather my pastor’s preaching be faithful though boring, rather than stirring but inconsistent. Needing a Red Bull before church is better than needing a spiritual antidote to save you from doctrinal poison after church!
Don’t be a schizophrenic in the pulpit. Don’t be Rev. Jekyll and Bishop Hyde. Don’t be a preaching chameleon.
Be consistent. Be faithful. Be right whenever they catch you.