Almost 10 years ago, I sat in my office listening to Dr. John Stott shares his heart about preaching. I wish he would have been in my office himself so I could ask him questions. Alas, I was listening to a recording of a course he taught many years prior. At the time, I was serving at the Institute of Theological Studies, developing a “legacy” course to make Stott’s material available again. It was profound to hear such an accomplished minister and preacher describe the duty, calling, and privilege of preaching God’s Word. (This material is now available in Our Daily Bread’s Christian University offerings here).
I recall Dr. Stott talking about the role of a preacher to stand between two worlds, the world of the Bible and our world today. He even wrote a profoundly influential book by that name. That image of the preacher standing between two very different worlds has always stuck with me. When we preach, we first seek to understand God’s Word in its original context, and then we prayerfully apply it to our current world today.
We bridge two worlds for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of our people.
Fast forward a decade. As we were planning the Spring 2017 Talking Points Conference, that image of bridging two worlds came back to mind. I knew I wanted to host a conference to highlight the task and the challenge of grasping and communicating the ancient context of a passage in a way that is both interesting and applicable to listeners today. I wanted to support preachers in this incredible task.
At GRTS, our Bible professors have specialized in and are passionate about connecting to the historical and cultural background of Scripture (it’s become a defining feature of our programs). I learn something every time I get into a conversation with them. And when I’m able to fill the pulpit myself and wrestle with God’s Word for us today, I can’t help but be gripped by how crucial it is for us to do this well.
Preaching is a profound and heavy task. We can make the Bible say just about anything we want if we’re not careful. That’s why we must do the hard work of understanding what God communicated to those first listeners/readers, and then build a bridge back to our setting today. I believe the insight and humility this brings is deeply critical for the soul of the pastor and for the life and witness of the Church today.
If you are a preacher, if aspire to be a preacher, or if you are interested in how to apply the Bible, I invite you to join us on March 14, 2017. Dr. Jonathan Greer will dive deep into Old Testament backgrounds and five experienced preachers from diverse ministry settings will give mini-sermons to illustrate, encourage and inspire. They will also dialogue about practical ways to communicate the background of a passage and resources they have found most helpful.
Your tool kit will expand, and your soul will be encouraged. Hope to see you there.
- When: March 14, 2017
- Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Where: Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
- Registration: $30 General Public; $15 Student Rate (Register with code “CUstudent”)