Today's Word for Pastors...
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Today's Preaching Insight...
Losing the Power
In his classic book Power in Preaching, W.E. Sangster talks about why preachers often seem to lose the power they once felt in the pulpit. One of the most important things a preacher can do, Sangster insists, is to actually believe in preaching. He observes:
"Grasp the fact that the heart of the Gospel is a meeting of God and man, and preaching provides the best medium for that meeting. Many people - many preachers even - find this hard to believe. They believe the Gospel and they believe that it must be proclaimed. What they cannot believe is that there is anything sacrosanct in preaching as the method of proclamation. St. Paul, of course, said that ‘it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe' but printing was not invented then, nor the cinema, nor wireless [radio], nor television - and even the drama was in a primitive form. They have come to believe that there are better ways of proclaiming the Gospel than by preaching . . .
"And who can deny some force in this? A thousand will look at television for every ten who go to church. People love a ‘show,' and if the show can be sanctified and do the work, need we worry by what road the wanderers travel so long as they travel home?
"Now all this is plausible, but it is not convincing to those who know the nature of the Gospel. That God uses these ancillary methods we do not deny, but we maintain that preaching is primary in the purpose of God. ‘It was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching . . .' It is God's good pleasure still.
"It does not turn on what the people like but on what He likes. It is not a question of our particular gifts but of the divine intention. As DR. H.H. Farmer says: ‘The activity of preaching is not merely a means for conveying the content of the Christian faith, but it is in a real sense bound up with that content itself.' ‘The necessity of preaching resides in the fact that when God saves a man through Christ he insists on a living, personal encounter with him here and now in the sphere of present personal relationships.'"
In an article in the Sept. 30 edition of The Boston Globe, Jean Twenge - a psychology professor at San Diego State University - talks about the "Entitlement Generation," which she says includes virtually everyone born after 1970. The article says: "According to Twenge, these young people were raised on a daily regimen of praise and flattery from their baby boomer parents and from teachers who embraced a self-esteem-boosting curriculum that included activities like the Magic Circle game. Never heard of it? In this game, one child a day is given a badge that says "I'm great." The other children then take turns praising the "great" child, and eventually these compliments are written up and given to the child for posterity. This constant reinforcement, argues Twenge, is largely responsible for those young co-workers who drive you nuts.
"At the University of South Alabama, psychology professor Joshua Foster has done a great deal of research using a standardized test called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). The NPI asks subjects to rate the accuracy of various narcissistic statements, such as "I can live my life any way I want to" and "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place." Foster has given this personality test to a range of demographic groups around the world, and no group has scored higher than the American teenager. Narcissism also appears to be reaching new highs, even within the Entitlement Generation, among American college students. Another national study involving the NPI, conducted by Twenge, shows that 24 percent of college students in 2006 showed elevated levels of narcissism compared to just 15 percent in the early 1990s."
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