A Question About Preaching Style

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Jared

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a friend who listens to Paul Washer. He's his favorite preacher. I have listened to Paul Washer, and I don't disagree with most of what he says (the main thing that I disagree with him on is his view on indiginous missionaries), but I don't care for his tone.

I know that preaching repentance is serious business. And, I've been thinking lately about the people that I listen to that preach those kinds of messages. The preachers that I listen to that preach those types of messages are usually either perceived as "cool" (Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan), they have a Pentecostal or Charismatic style of preaching (Tope Koleoso), or they put those kinds of messages into songs (Keith Green, Todd Agnew).

Is there something wrong with our generation when we can't listen to a convicting message without someone softening it a bit through some style or medium that puts us at ease?

Would you say that George Whitefield did the same thing with his preaching that many modern preachers do? There were people who enjoyed listening to him because he was an effective communicator but they didn't give a rip about what he saying.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I think sometimes we fail to recognize the difference between being gentle in tone and softening the message. A faithful preacher will not soften the Word of God. He may, however, based on his audience and the situation, decide to take a harsher or a gentler tone. I have no problem with preachers who say the hard things that sometimes must be said, but say them in a gentle way that allows their message to be heard.

And, yes, I'd say that in general Western people today respond better to a gentler tone. I'm not sure that necessarily means there's something wrong with us. Take my role as a dad. If I had one kid who responded well to straight, blunt talk and another who responded to gentle reasoning, I don't think I'd say there was something wrong with the second kid. They're just different.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm not sure what the purpose was in bringing up Paul Washer. Are you intending to say that you realize preaching repentance is serious business but you don't care for Paul's tone when he does so? That is the best interpretation I could muster, and at times I would agree with you. He was much more fiery in the past but has mellowed out over the years; sometimes he indeed had righteous indignation and other times he spoke unlovingly. Nevertheless, he has been rebuked for his tone in the past and he repented for it. Personally, I'm with your friend on this one; brother Paul is one of my favorite preachers and I have benefitted immensely from his ministry.

Nevertheless, it isn't wrong for Driscoll or Chan to be seen as cool, nor is it wrong to preach with a charismatic style depending on what you mean by that terminology. Repentance in Green's and Agnew's music isn't preaching in the sense of the other examples, so I'm not exactly sure the connection there. And as to Whitefield, it wasn't wrong for him to be dramatic in his attempt to bring the Scriptures to life for an audience. The fact is, no person's "style" is perfect, and no generation is able to accept the Gospel. Effective preaching is always by the grace of God, despite the speaker's faults.

While there are certainly methods and styles that are wrong because of irreverence, a desire to water down the message, etc. I don't think the examples you gave qualify. Even if there have been instances where those speakers failed to speak properly, it simply wouldn't be accurate to say that their faults are their "style." (And no, I don't think that is what you were intending to say; I was just trying to be complete in my thought.)
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
It seems that a harsher tone is sometimes justified when preaching on certain topics like repentance. And an itinerant minister does not preach through consecutive books of the bible but rather preaches often on the same themes. One of Washer's themes seems to be repentance and shaking nominal Christians out of slumber. Therefore, a harsher tone seems often to fit this sort of message.


Also,

How do you disagree with Heartcry's emphasis on indigenous missions? This is one of Heartcry's strong points. Would you care to discuss your views or open a new thread on the subject?
 

Jared

Puritan Board Freshman
...
It seems that a harsher tone is sometimes justified when preaching on certain topics like repentance. And an itinerant minister does not preach through consecutive books of the bible but rather preaches often on the same themes. One of Washer's themes seems to be repentance and shaking nominal Christians out of slumber. Therefore, a harsher tone seems often to fit this sort of message.

I understand that somewhat. But, that was the main thing that my friend disagreed with me on. He thinks that I need to learn to just take it like a man so to speak whereas I'm mindful of how it's going to be received. I guess for me it's something of a tightrope. I think that certain topics like sin, hell, repentance, and the like do require a different tone, I'm just not sure how "harsh" we should be with our tone. I think it's somewhat subjective. I don't think Paul Washer always comes across sounding overly harsh, but I do think he does at times, and for me, he does it often enough to keep me from listening to him most of the time.


Also,

How do you disagree with Heartcry's emphasis on indigenous missions? This is one of Heartcry's strong points. Would you care to discuss your views or open a new thread on the subject?

I disagree with his stance that it's always better to send indigenous missionaries. I don't disagree with him that indigenous missionaries might be more effective at times, but I think if you're always saying that, then you might discourage other people from getting involved in foreign missions that might be called to that field.
 

travstar

Puritan Board Freshman
Philippians 1

14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.


If Paul can bear with envious and unloving motivation, I can bear with either mushy or unloving tone, as long as Christ is preached.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
From the Directory of Public Worship on Public Preaching:

He is not to rest in general doctrine, although never so much cleared and confirmed, but to bring it home to special use, by application to his hearers: which albeit it prove a work of great difficulty to himself, requiring much prudence, zeal, and meditation, and to the natural and corrupt man will be very unpleasant; yet he is to endeavour to perform it in such a manner, that his auditors may feel the word of God to be quick and powerful, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; and that, if any unbeliever or ignorant person be present, he may have the secrets of his heart made manifest, and give glory to God.

The temptation to avoid direct application of general doctrine in order to spare the natural and corrupt is not new to this generation.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
...
It seems that a harsher tone is sometimes justified when preaching on certain topics like repentance. And an itinerant minister does not preach through consecutive books of the bible but rather preaches often on the same themes. One of Washer's themes seems to be repentance and shaking nominal Christians out of slumber. Therefore, a harsher tone seems often to fit this sort of message.

I understand that somewhat. But, that was the main thing that my friend disagreed with me on. He thinks that I need to learn to just take it like a man so to speak whereas I'm mindful of how it's going to be received. I guess for me it's something of a tightrope. I think that certain topics like sin, hell, repentance, and the like do require a different tone, I'm just not sure how "harsh" we should be with our tone. I think it's somewhat subjective. I don't think Paul Washer always comes across sounding overly harsh, but I do think he does at times, and for me, he does it often enough to keep me from listening to him most of the time.


Also,

How do you disagree with Heartcry's emphasis on indigenous missions? This is one of Heartcry's strong points. Would you care to discuss your views or open a new thread on the subject?

I disagree with his stance that it's always better to send indigenous missionaries. I don't disagree with him that indigenous missionaries might be more effective at times, but I think if you're always saying that, then you might discourage other people from getting involved in foreign missions that might be called to that field.

Although HeartCry recognizes the great importance of sending missionaries from the West to the unevangelized peoples throughout the world, we believe that we are led of the Lord to support indigenous or native missionaries so that they might evangelize their own peoples. We seek to work with indigenous congregations, elders, and missionaries of integrity and faith in the unreached world to help them evangelize and plant churches among their own peoples.

This is from the website. They are not against Western-sent missionaries, their focus, however, is on indigenous evangelists (who often get overlooked by Western churches).
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
I think that Paul Washer is a really good preacher. Of course, because he is not a pastor, but really an itinerant preacher, he is able to preach in a way that a pastor could not do from week to week. You cannot water the vineyard with a fire hose! Sometimes you can spray it down; but the normal feeding and shepherding needs to be from the whole counsel of God and in a varied manner. Not everything needs to be preached with the consistent intensity of P. Washer.
 

ChariotsofFire

Puritan Board Sophomore
We read this in our worship service this morning, and I thought it pertained to the discussion:

Q. 159. How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?

A. They that are called to labor in the ministry of the word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently, in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I think that Paul Washer is a really good preacher. Of course, because he is not a pastor, but really an itinerant preacher, he is able to preach in a way that a pastor could not do from week to week. You cannot water the vineyard with a fire hose! Sometimes you can spray it down; but the normal feeding and shepherding needs to be from the whole counsel of God and in a varied manner. Not everything needs to be preached with the consistent intensity of P. Washer.


Actually, I may be mistaken but I think he is pastoring a church now. It is a new plant. Brother Paul is a good man (he has significant ties with my church here in Owensboro, KY) and feeds the sheep well; to continue what you were saying, Pastor Eshelman, the vast majority of videos online are not from weekly feedings of the flock. They aren't proper measures of his abilities regarding consistent or regular shepherding.

Here is a very recent example of how he feeds the sheep at the plant I just mentioned. This is the pastoral side of Mr. Washer that most don't see because of the selectivity of the internet.

YouTube - Children's Catechism - Paul Washer
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
Jared,
I think I understand you; please correct me if I missed your point. I find myself bothered by messages (I have no public figure in mind here) where week after week, the pastor sobs and cries and pleads and/or shouts continually. I think, as a previous thread discussed, that the content of the message, the overwhelming sense of the character of God, or the love of the people would cause an emotional response in the pastor. Under these circumstances, I would have no issue. What bothers me, and I think you as well, is this method as a regular style. Am I correct?
 
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