I was reading some selections of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels and it struck me as to how much variety of purpose and content Jesus had in his preaching. Sometimes he encouraged. Other times his purpose was to challenge. Still other times he was out rebuking people. He also motivated, praised God, informed, corrected, and instructed. Jesus didn’t do things just one for one purpose. Jesus knew that different situations called for different approaches, different purposes and different topics and techniques. If you just do one of these the others will be lacking. If you challenge people every single week in every single way people will feel beat up. If you never challenge people their faith can become stagnant. Biblical preaching requires balance.
There was an old saying in preaching that you “preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other”. The idea behind that statement is that preaching and teaching need to be in tune with what is going on in the real world. I am afraid, though, that approach still lacks balance. There is a third piece, one that Jesus constantly recognized. This piece will bring even more balance to preaching. That piece is context. You have to know who it is you are preaching to. You have to know what they are going through, what questions they have and where they are trying to get to in their spiritual growth and development. Sometimes you are preaching the basics to those who don’t know. Other times there is a need to teach more meat for those who have grown beyond the basics. Balance is key. Extremes are to be avoided. Know your people and preach/teach accordingly.