Jump Start # 2532
1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”
I’ve been reading a book about preaching. I am always reading about preaching. I want to do better. I want to grow. But as I was reading this week about “point to point” type of preaching, point one, then point two, the way I’ve always preached, the author was showing that this was not the best way to communicate. Audiences, he stated, would only remember the last point. All that got me to thinking about our verse today.
Paul and Apollos. What a contrast. Apollos is said to have been eloquent, mighty in Scriptures, fervent in spirit. He was good. Don’t know if he was “point to point” type of preacher, but he was polished and good. Paul was not that way. The twisted accusations about Paul from the Corinthians make us think that he wasn’t that good. His public speaking skills lacked much. Interesting that Paul was the apostle, and not Apollos.
Style of preaching—that’s what much of this is about. Some can tell a great narrative and pull you right into the lesson. Some are screamers. Some are very logical. Some stay with one text walking through word after word with great insight. Others are all over the Bible, building a case, much like a prosecutor. Paul and Apollos, two different kinds of preachers. Which one was better? Which one would we have liked to listen to all the time?
And, all of this brings us to a few thoughts today: (Here we go, point to point):
First, preaching is an extension of one’s life and heart. It is a reflection of one’s personality. Past experiences, knowledge and passion of specific things shapes the kind of preaching that is done. Some love words and they like to trace the origins and definitions of words. Others like history and they love to follow the connections passages make throughout Biblical history. Others are very theory and principle focused. Others are very practical. Some of us are point to point. Others, it’s very hard to outline and take notes because everything just seems to flow together.
Now, is there a right way and a wrong way? Is it fair to tell a Paul that he needed to preach like Apollos? Obviously, the answer is “No.” I’ve found after a period of time, the preacher shapes his audience to hear his form of preaching. I’ve heard some preach and I’m lost. I’m looking for point one, point two and to me it seems that he is all over the place. The audience was used to that. They loved it.
Second, the writings of Peter and John, though guided by the Holy Spirit are very different. Peter tends to be to the point, practical. John is more theory oriented. Different men and different approaches. I find it interesting that most of the apostles were fishermen. Jesus did not send these men to a preacher training school. He didn’t sit down with them and show them how to write a sermon. He didn’t talk about introductions, conclusions, and transition points. He didn’t tell them to keep an eye on the clock. Truth is, Jesus didn’t tell them anything about preaching. They saw Jesus. They heard what Jesus did. They grew up in the atmosphere of rabbis but none of them had any formal training in how to preach. They were told to simply go do it. I wonder if today, we’d try to turn a Paul into an Apollos. Each person has his own unique style. He needs to learn, grow but be comfortable with what works for him.
Third, the point of preaching is to change hearts and lives. The word of God must sink deep into the soul for this to happen. I find preaching much like raising your own kids. What worked for one often doesn’t work on the others. One must not be sold just on one approach. Be flexible. Try different kinds of styles and approaches. The difference between a lecture and a sermon is the intention. A lecture is about giving information. One is filling the mind with evidence and facts. The point of preaching is the heart. With facts, the heart comes to a conclusion. The heart is changed. The heart is moved.
Fourth, preaching isn’t a contest. It’s not about who is the best. Such a statement is bias. My favorite, may not be your favorite. My favorite would be one that preaches in such a way that connects with the way I think and learn. You may not learn that way. I like point to point. You may get more out of a narrative form of preaching. Now, how can we agree upon which preacher is the best, when we learn differently? Putting preachers in a favorite list, feeds egos, builds jealousy and is not what God wants. Be thankful that there are Peters’, Pauls’ and Apollos’ preaching today. What God wants is for the preacher to preach is heart out, faithful to the word, loving the people and doing his best to connect people to Jesus.
Finally, we preachers need to continue to read, grow and learn how to be better. Don’t settle. Don’t get stuck. Read books about communication. Read books about preaching. Keep learning. Keep growing. It will make you better and it will make what you do better.
I planted and Apollos watered. Team work, not competition.