Preaching Style: Are You Pastor or Prophet in the Pulpit?

preaching May 05, 2023
Preaching Style: Are You Pastor or Prophet in the Pulpit?

Every preacher has their own personality and their own wiring. And depending on what that is, they may gravitate toward being more of a pastor in the pulpit or more of a prophet in the pulpit.

So which are you?

Preaching Style: The Pastor

The pastor is the shepherd. The guide. 

The pastor in the pulpit is kind and compassionate. Connecting to people’s hearts and leading them toward freedom in Christ. 

The pastor in the pulpit remembers, at all times, the struggles of the sheep. When speaking on difficult topics, the pastor always discerns how certain people will receive that topic and offers helpful and nuanced caveats so as to not disturb them (beyond their ability to hear and receive the word of God).

Preaching Style: The Prophet

The prophet is the guard and the knight. 

The prophet in the pulpit is passionate and matter-of-fact. Seeing the big picture and seeing the direction of their people is the prophet’s instinct. 

The prophet knows that the truth sets people free and that faith comes by hearing the word of God. They fearlessly address any and all topics that are plaguing their people. Like one calling out to a people headed for a cliff, the prophet pleads with people to repent and surrender to King Jesus.

Which Are You? This might surprise you.

When you look at these descriptions, which do you resonate with the most?

  • The pastor who is the guide?
  • The prophet who is the guard?
  • The pastor who is compassionate?
  • The prophet who is passionate?
  • The pastor who is kind?
  • The prophet who is fearless?

You likely have a natural bent toward pastor or prophet.

But no matter your natural bent, it’s best to be both.

“I didn’t see much splagna.”

I was on a zoom call with my preaching coach. He had walked alongside me for a number of months. He had gotten to know me and recognized that I tended to be more of a prophet in the pulpit, especially when I wasn’t the healthiest version of myself. 

He was reviewing one of my sermons in which I was talking about the Greek word for compassion. How compassion comes from the gut just like it does when you say the Greek word for it, σπλαγχνίζομαι.

He told me, Brandon, I see you describing it. I hear what you’re saying. But I didn’t feel your σπλάγχνα.

He was right (even though I didn’t want to hear it at the time). 

I had allowed myself to be prophet in a sermon that I, at the very least, needed to be both prophet and pastor.

Some sermons necessitate one more than the other.

That’s the challenge in preaching in the same church around 40 or more weeks in a year. There will be some sermons that necessitate a prophet to be more pastoral. And there will be some sermons that necessitate a pastor to be more prophetic. 

This, many would argue (including me), is why it’s best to have more than one voice preaching in a church. And yes, I recognize for my APEST people, this article has been driving you nuts. Well, what about the apostles, evangelists, and teachers, Brandon?! I hear you. Go write that article, friend.

Regardless, the point still stands. Preach long enough and you’ll be confronted with your tendencies and will be challenged to step into the style which isn’t automatic. Why? Because God’s word necessitates it.

Some sermons necessitate you to be more pastor than prophet. And the opposite is true as well. 

My preaching coach rightly pointed out that there was dissonance with the message of my sermon and the style I delivered it in.

After all, it’s not about your natural bent or my natural bent any way. That can be a helpful conversation because we need not try to be someone we’re not. And yet, we must remember, preaching is about communicating God’s revealed word faithfully to people.

And to do that, the preacher must tap into both pastor and prophet.

Fearlessly proclaim the truth of God’s word. Don’t sugarcoat it. And compassionately communicate that truth to people who need God’s grace.

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