Often preachers can make it seem as though the Bible is irrelevant for contemporary needs and society. Part of the problem is that we don’t truly allow the Bible to speak to us. We either change the question that those of today are asking and and then quickly come in with an answer from the Bible, or we give the answer from the Bible to a question that no one is asking.
In both instances the Bible is left at arms length from the people. But is there a way to let an ancient book speak to the needs of contemporary people? I think there is, but it is not terribly easy. It requires work on the part of the preacher. We must dig down deep into both the text and contemporary society. While I cannot tell you exactly what to do in this short article, I can point you in the correct direction. If you want to find out about a full preaching course, you can access the information at http://www.superchargeyoursermons.com.
The first thing that one must do if one is to make the ancient book applicable to contemporary society is to UNDERSTAND the book and the society. Too often we come to the text with a superficial understanding of either the Bible or society and thus come up with superficial answers. Part of the reason for the proliferation of the prosperity Gospel and other pop-gospels is a superficial reading of scripture. We don’t’ really understand the scripture before we start applying it to society and we mess things up.
Another problem however is when we don’t really understand the culture we are trying to address. We have all seen the 50 year old conservative preacher attempting to connect to the youth by using their jargon and putting on their clothes only to find out that they are only a superficial understanding of the youth. Instead of attempting to use their jargon why not tap into your own insecurities that you had when you were young. While the jargon has changed, understanding your motives and desires and difficulties from your own youth will help you to connect to them on a deeper level.
The next thing that we must do if we are to address the contemporary world is to EXPERIENCE the Bible world and the present world. I have said that you need to take a walk in the Bible world. Understand it in your senses and your emotions. Look around and smell and feel what is going on in the text. Now it is time to go to your people and do the same thing. How does Sister Betty feel about the cancer diagnoses? What are the emotions that would be going on in your mind? What about Brother Lance who just lost his job and wonders about putting food on the table for his 2 year old Baby. And how about the feelings that are going through the mind of Mother Alice who has lost her husband of 40 years. One of the most powerful ways to make a text relevant is to show that these basic feelings and pains and hurts that we feel today were not only operative, but were addressed by the Book.
So understand and experience both the text and today’s world and you will be in a position to connect the text to your people in profound and powerful ways.