Friday, March 7, 2008

A Lengthy Comment to Master Jenkins on Preacher-Boy Syndrome

In regards to bad preaching:

Most preachers today (young and old) suffer from what I call "Preacher-boy Syndrome." You probably know what I mean: You have a friend you've known for years. His a cool guy. He loves life, loves hanging with friends, loves the Lord, and has a humor and vigor that lighten the room.
Then he gets called to be a preacher. He goes to Bible College for a year and comes back. What happens? Now he is all...strange. You feel a certain distance that wasn't there before; you could be looking him in the eye and he'd still seem oceans away. He seems almost brainwashed. Some would say "sanctified," "holy," "excited about God," and other such foolish misdirections. All you know is that anyone with two good eyes and plain common sense could see that there is something not right about him at all. He seems stressed, always pressured. He's always trying to smile a smile that seems plastered on. He's always spitting out "Amen!" and "Praise God!" to everything you say to him (even when what you said does not even merit such a response). You find him asking you weird questions in public, like "You think I should witness to those people over there?" Beforehand, he had never asked you that; he just did it. In short, you feel this terrible atmosphere of anxiety wrapped around some sort of artificial covering that was once your friend. You feel as though he's jumping through hoops with a gun put to his head, as though he's putting on a show to save his life. Sometime, many times, pastors never recover from this.
What happened to your friend is "Preacher-boy Syndrome," which is the Black Death of Bible Colleges these days. Aspiring young preachers, all bright faced and eager, get told (with different words than the ones I'm about to use) that a "preacher" is not who they are, not who God wants to be through them, but is a part that they perform. In order to perform it right, they must say the right things, do the right things, dress the right way, ask the right questions, hang with the right people, etc. In short, preaching, shepherding, stop being who they are (who God is through them) and start being some thing that they are to produce. In other words, it is no longer real; it is contrived. The problem you sense when your friend comes home from Bible College is that he feels utterly, abysmally, undeniably fake. Everything, from his dress to his sermons to his conversations to even his wife, all of it feels contrived, concocted, there because that's what's supposed to be there.
Preach the grandeur of God? Engage the depths of theology? Intellectually challenge your congregation? Spiritually prick their hearts with mighty missiles of God's truth? Good heavens, man! I'm still trying to organize all the charities and events and meetings and fund raisers and parties and choir outings and cantatas and three-point sermons! I'm too busy doing what I'm supposed to do! Doing what I have to do if I'm to be seen as a pastor! How can I be a pastor if I'm not doing all these things! Saying all these things! Wearing all these things!
Since when did following God's will for your life become about anything you do? When did it stop being about God using you and working through you? When did we feel it necessary to put ourselves in the way?

Why does preaching suck these days? Because we have no real pastors. We have performers in pastor costumes. Thus is Preacher-boy Syndrome; thus is another plight and blight upon the modern church.

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