This year I've been reflecting on preaching in the book of Acts. Here are ten things that I've been learning:
[NB - I have brought these observations closer to home with the use of 'Auckland' as it is my home town. Feel free to make the appropriate substitution!].
1. As in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Rome, we must acknowledge in Auckland that a divine initiative lies behind this human speech. The challenge is a theological one before it is a methodological one. God chooses to use preaching as a vehicle for the advance of his unstoppable word.
2. As in Jerusalem, Samaria, Caesarea, Pisidian Antioch, and Corinth, we must focus in Auckland upon Jesus Christ - ensuring that the proclaimer in the Gospels becomes the proclaimed in the church as we build on the gospel events (the death and resureection of Jesus), the gospel witnesses (the Scriptures), the gospel promises (the offer of salvation) and the gospel associates (repentance, faith, baptism, Spirit-filling etc). [Using a little John Stott with that one!]
3. As in Pisidian Antioch, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus, we must persist in Auckland with opening and explaining the text of Scripture - in its fullness and depth and over a lengthy period of time - so that the revealed and sufficient word of God can mature the people of God.
4. As in Jerusalem, Pisidian Antioch, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome, we must expect in Auckland a divided response to faithful preaching as we encounter both acceptance and rejection of the message. We must recoil from the cultural forces which would have us 'accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative' in an effort to market the gospel to consumers.
5. As in Thessalonica, and in comparing Athens with Pisidian Antioch, we must be flexible and fulsome in Auckland - ensuring that preachers and preaching teams include 'information, declaration, exhortation, persuasion, and conversation' (Peter Adam) in their preaching. Afterall stott-ing, graham-ing, campolo-ing, carson-ing, and bell-ing are both distinctive from each other and yet still overlap with each other.
6. As in Jerusalem, Pisidian Antioch, Philippi, Athens, and Ephesus, we must identify the spaces in Auckland with equivalency to the temple courts, the synagogues, the riversides, the marketplaces, the lecture halls, and the homes and occupy those spaces with an appropriate communication of the gospel.
7. As in Caesarea, Antioch, Pisidian Antioch, and Philippi, we must free the gospel in Auckland to cross boundaries thereby enabling the 'turn to the Gentiles' to be ongoing as it seeks out the lost and the last and the least and maybe even discovers some of them to be part of a God-fearing fringe in society.
8. As in Lystra and Athens we must be prepared in Auckland to commence a gospel presentation from a point of contact with our audience that is outside the Bible - such as those provided by our own contemporary philosophers expressed in the billboards and lyrics, the advertising and cartoons of our world.
9. As in Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, and Ephesus, we must loosen preaching in Auckland from its monological stereotype and welcome the interactivity which comes with dialogue and debate.
10. As in Jerusalem, Damascus, and Caesarea we must in Auckland be well-acquainted with both the biblical story and our own personal story - and be able to testify boldly to the significance of both as we bear witness to Jesus.
And my favourite resource as I've reflected?
I reckon Michael Green, Thirty Years That Changed the World (Eerdmans, 2002) is just fantastic. So readable - yet covers the territory well.