Every Tuesday morning the team sits down to review the previous Sunday – what went well, what could we do better, etc. And we normally give a good portion of the time to thinking about how we can all be constantly improving our preaching.
One of the things that we’ve been thinking about recently is content, and the principle that, generally speaking, less is more. Preaching isn’t a feast for the fat; it’s nourishment for the needy. It’s less ‘full English’ and more a bowl of Shreddies.
This thought crystallized for me while away at a conference. Every morning we’d get a full English breakfast – marvellous me thinks, until I get to the final day, and my innards are making strange groans. Frankly, by the last day I’m not even sure I could face a fourth full English. I love it, but couldn’t eat it every day – it’s just too much, too rich, and too hard to digest. By day four I want a small bowl of Shreddies.
As preachers I think this is a principle we need to understand. If we’re in it for the long haul with people, we don’t need to unload all of our doctrinal system each and every week. It’s too much for ordinary folk to take. Less is more. I’m not encouraging ‘dumbing-down’ or just talking about life-style issues, at the expense of tough doctrine. I am encouraging us to walk a mile in our people’s shoes and consider what they really need week by week. I fear too much preaching assaults the intellect, and leaves the preacher quietly self-satisfied and smug as he dismounts his favourite hobby horse. ‘The Bible college student sat in the congregation can now be in no doubt as to my theological prowess’ the preacher says to himself. Ask Bill in the pew what he took out of it you might get a blank stare.
If you really want people to be nourished, and not just overwhelmed in some kind of food-coma, don’t try and serve up a full English every time. Over the long-haul less is more. Shreddies will do fine thank you.