Mark Driscoll, a Pastor of a large church in Seattle shared recently that his "angry young prophet days are over," and he wants to be "more of a spiritual father" in the way he teaches and writes. No matter what you think of Driscoll, I long for this concept to be picked up by preachers everywhere.
I believe that churches and believers would be even more engaged and would grow if the Pastor and visiting preachers would focus on being more gentle in their presentations of God's Word.
I have a long history with the church - for decades I have enjoyed (and sometimes endured) preachers of all shapes and sizes.
And over the past decade, plus a few years, I have been one of the preachers myself - at God's calling - preaching in churches of all shapes and sizes.
Levi Lusko, a Pastor in Montana recently tweeted: "I love the church. If it was worth Jesus' life to buy it is worthy of mine to build." (Tweet this)
If the Church is worthy of building, then it is worthy of building well.
Here are two ways we can start:
1. Work towards gentleness in everything you do, especially preaching
The last time I checked my Bible, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, not intensity or holy anger.
We have gotten sidetracked in Church leadership towards being wild at heart, and have focused too much on being in the Lord's army and putting on the armor of God as if it's more about militantancy than gentleness.
I myself, spent a good chunk of my Bible college years believing that astheticism and intensity were the primary goals to be achieved in the Christian life. I've been growing (especially in the past few years) in my understanding and longing for the Holy Spirit to run my life and produce the kind of fruits talked about in Galatians 5:22-23: a whole lot of love, whole lot of joy, whole lot of peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self control.
But why does it so often look the opposite in the life of the Christian - and the Christan leader? We get sidetracked by our frustration with society's degrading values, and worked up over every little tittle and tottle that the media throws our way. We need to stop. And consider in what Spirit we need to be speaking and acting.
Nowhere in the life of the Church is character going to be picked up and put on as in the weekly sermons by the Pastor. If the church is to be a gentle church, the Pastor must be a gentle pastor.
It doesn't matter if it is not your spiritual gift - it is the Holy Spirit's gift who resides in you and who wants to be outworking through you.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
2. Tell people how much you want what you're preaching about
There is more to gentleness than just being soft spoken (although that might not hurt - preachers shouldn't need to sound like angry parents the entire time they are on stage).
The people in our churches don't come each week as professionals and blue-collar workers to feel like they are being scolded, or culture is being scolded, or someone somewhere is always being scolded. Church should feel like more than a weekly scolding. Let's make it more like a encouragement session, and a celebration of Christ's finished work on the cross.
Do not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
So encourage your people. Speak life. And let them know on every topic of holiness that you pull out of your arsenal of sermons, that you personally long to grow in the areas you are preaching about. Let them know you are not perfect. Be self depracating. Let them know when there are areas you especially struggle, but that you are striving under Christ's power to be more like Christ in those areas every single day - let them know you are not satisfied until you become everything God wants you to be. And then, and only then, call them to the same.
This will go a long way. This will remove obstacles and barriers that prevent them from feeling like they cannot even start, and show them you are truly a spiritual parent who longs for God's best for their lives.