Preaching – Transition from Motivating to Educating

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It seems like some of the most effective preaching that is going on today is very educational. I don’t mean educational like a dry lecture from Ferris Beuller’s Day off. I mean very engaging but certainly not light on the biblical narrative or even bits and pieces of more complex theology thrown in the mix. I think Andy Stanley is an excellent example of this. He preaches in a way that draws you in without dumbing things down or glossing over things. He seems more interested in educating than he seems in motivating. I think you could make a case that if people “get it” that that in and of itself can be motivating.

Do you think that is true? Do you think people easily go from information to application with no more motivation than education? Or do you think that people need motivational preaching that is peppered with good educational information?

0 Responses

  1. Matt,

    If this is true then…Halellujah!

    In my experience of ministry, I have been surprised at how many Christians (who are not new Christians) have such a shallow understanding of the scriptures and the Christian faith. The other day I heard a woman, who claimed to be a life long Christian, exclaim that being a Christian and being a Muslim are the same thing because both religions teach love and peace. Has this womna never read Acts 2? Even if all world religions taught the same ethical principles, it is not the teachings that make Jesus unique. It is the fact that he has been raised as Lord and Messiah which make his teaching authority. I know htat is a bit of an extreme example but it is not as uncommon as I once would have thought.

    I will say that I know other Christians who have a very good grasp of the scriptures and faith. And they are usually very hungry for substance when being taught. Further, if we are going to do our job well then we must educate people in the scriptures and Christian faith. If the second and third century Christians are any indication, early Christians did a very good job of educating one another in the truth.

    Grace and peace,


  2. “… if people “get it” that that in and of itself can be motivating.”

    That depends on the person. I think different forms of communication and preaching styles does different things to different people.

    I don’t know that there’s a single answer for everyone to the questions you’ve posed.

    I do know that we should preach the word regardless of how we package it.

  3. Before any teaching can take place the listener must grasp what is being taught. We must preach sermons that are educational but….. if we don’t do it in a way that motivates our listeners to stay with us not much has been accomplished. I guess my thoughts on this are about as much a “dodge” as one can make. Just a few thoughts…….dell

  4. I guess I am more or less reacting to the Joel Osteen type motivational speech that really doesn’t give you any more information about God or the Bible than you came with. You might feel motivated to be different or live different but until you are educated biblically you can take it whatever direction you like. So there is balance to be found like what all of you are saying.

  5. I have first hand experience with a couple of church members who listen to every word Joel Osteen says. There faith seemed to be more about them and what is going on in their life. I realize that we all are concerned with ourselves and our life on some level, yet the gospel STILL calls upon us to die to ourselves.

    Grace and peace,


  6. Great point Matt, regarding Joel. If all we do is provide a motivational talk for our listeners, then we are really missing the point.

  7. Preaching is more than teaching. But good preaching always includes good teaching.

    Today’s preachers can no longer assume that church members know the Bible and the Christian tradition. So many of today’s pulpiteers act as though everyone already gets it, and that all the preacher needs to do is to remind, encourage, and inspire. Those days are gone (if they were ever here).

    Here in the Christianized Bible Belt (Amarillo, TX) my church-going college students don’t know much Scripture at all. And they’re the motivated ones.

    I say, preachers must expand and maximize their ministries of the Word and do a lot of teaching from the pulpit. If they don’t, they’re negligent shepherds.

  8. Great points Frank. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the young people are motivated and not educated. Some who have been in church a long time might just be educated but not motivated.

    That brings up a great point – it comes down to contextualizing to your audience. Know where they are and what they need. But don’t assume too much. Don’t assume they already get it because many may not. I think we often miss opportunities to educate because we assume they already know and we end up trying to motivate them toward things they don’t understand.

  9. I have been guilty on trying to be too or overly motivational on more than one occasion. And it has usually happened in the same type of setting – camp, rally. The more I think about it, I must admit that I was trying to give the audience what I thought they were coming to hear. I was looking to provide that emotional rush that would convict them to action.

    I had a couple of errors in my thinking. First, it’s not my responsibility to “convict” anyone. The Holy Spirit can handle that responsibility just fine. My second error is that I thought the best way to reach people was through pure emotion and motivation. That’s just not true. The Word is what inspires, motivates, etc, etc. The deeper we can get into the Word, the better off we will be – and the better off the audience will be. At teachers, our attempts to motivate should be based on attempts to interact with God’s Word on as personal and intimate a level as possible.

    As far as the Joel Osteen’s of the world are concerned . . . well, I try not to sit in judgment on anyone. But I will say that every time I listen to him, he is preaching the exact same sermon. And I have never heard him get into the Word. Only a casual reference to a scripture to support his prosperity doctrine.

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