(Just want to get this out of the way: this post is not about any particular person. Please don’t read any individual criticism into it. Thanks.)
My generation of pastors is full of rule breakers. We don’t dress the part. We speak out of turn. We pride ourselves in making burgers out of sacred cows.
That’s okay. John the Baptist fit all of these descriptions. So did Jesus, actually.
But I’m afraid some of us are missing a key point:
You’ve got to know the rules before you can break ‘em.
If we’re going to discard a time-honored methodology, it can’t be because we’re too lazy or ADD to continue it. It must be because we’ve found a better, more Biblical way.
If we’re going to use strong language in our sermons, it can’t be because we’re covering up a lack of content with shock value statements. It must be because God has burned a prophetic sentiment in our hearts and we’re compelled to express it in an unconventional way.
If we’re going to teach topically rather than verse-by-verse, book-by-book, it should be born out of our sincere belief that this is the most effective and appropriate way to preach God’s Word, not just because we fear that book-by-by teaching is boring, or dread the hard work of digging into the text.
Can I tell you a secret? I completed my M.Div. recently. I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know if I would do it if I had it to do over again. And I do not recommend every aspiring pastor follow suit.
But it sure is nice to know the rules before you break them.
Let’s don’t masquerade our ignorance with hype.
Let’s don’t substitute heat for light.
Let’s know what rules we’re breaking-so we can break ‘em on purpose-and break ‘em right down the middle.