Fred Lybrand in his book Preaching on Your Feet, quotes Phillips Brooks about the importance of your preaching ministry being uniquely an expression of yourself and a dynamic intersection with the people to whom you preach. (He is setting up his apologetic for extemporaneous preaching). But I find the quote from Brooks powerful:
"I want to make you know two things: first, that if your ministry is to be good for anything, it must be your ministry, and not a feeble echo of another man’s; and second, that the Christians ministry is not the mere practice of a set of rules and precedents, but is a broad, free, fresh meeting of a man with men, in such close contact that the Christ who has entered into his life may, through his, enter into theirs."
How far we have gotten from that. With the idealization of one style of preaching or the idealization of the Warrens/Hybels/Russells/Driscolls/etc. of the world (as faithful servants as they may be), so many ministers are just an echo of someone else’s ministry. I know because I have been there.
Part of the struggle, however, is that when I echo someone else, I get lots of affirmation from the congregation. But when I try to speak with my unique voice, then arises the petty nit-picking and complaints that my preaching doesn’t connect.
I think that this book Preaching On Your Feet is going to not only be fun, but also be a deep challenge to me. More about it in the days to come.