The ups, downs and crux of preaching

PHOTO: Kristi Lee

Preaching to Transform Not to Modify

Jeff Bucknam

By Carl Heppner

It is clear that Jeff Bucknam has mastered the art of presence in the pulpit. This presentation on the role of biblical preaching as an element of effective discipleship through boldness, deeper application, and Christ-centredness was clear and engaging. And as a pastor who speaks regularly, I confess that I found myself drifting continually into mental comparisons of my own preaching tendencies, foibles and preferences and wondering how I measured up to this methodology.

Recognizing that the format of this presentation does not easily lend itself to a nuanced exploration on the subject matter, I would like to note a couple of the questions which came to mind as I considered my response. Every seminar, class and book on effective preaching that I have encountered has had one thing in common: they each begin with understanding the role of the preacher as mediator of a Spirit-infused and inspired message arising from the scriptural text that addresses the immediate context of the hearers. In fact, much of the preacher’s work of wrestling with the text lies in the task of listening carefully for the Spirit’s direction.

While this approach of listening carefully resonates well with this presentation’s call to deeper application, a concern is that the proclamation of bold truths without due attention may too easily lend itself to the imposition of the preacher’s own grievances with perceived spiritual weakness and unbelief among the hearers. As such, I would propose that we might rather pursue transformational preaching that is “wholly true.”

Having said that, I must affirm that I resonated wholeheartedly with Jeff’s final point: all transformational preaching must begin and end with the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—Carl Heppner is pastor at Fort Garry MB Church, Winnipeg.