Preacher: Who Are You Speaking To Every Week?

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People Pastors Are Preaching To Week in and Week Out – *Tim Keller

In Tim Keller’s outstanding book on preaching: Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism he has a wonderful section in the footnotes that perhaps a lot of people miss when they read his book (30% of the book is in the footnotes). Here are the different kinds of people you may be speaking to. Does the text you are preaching speak to any of them?

  • Conscious unbeliever: Is aware he is not a Christian.
  • Immoral pagan: Is living a blatantly immoral/illegal lifestyle.
  • Intellectual pagan: Claims the faith is untenable or unreasonable.
  • Imitative pagan: Is fashionably skeptical, but not profound.
  • Genuine Thinker: Has serious well-conceived objections.
  • Religious non-Christian: Belongs to an organized religion, cult, or denomination with seriously mistaken doctrine.
  • Non-churched nominal Christian: Has belief in basic Christian doctrines, but with no or remote church connection.
  • Churched nominal Christian: Participates in church but is not regenerated.
  • Semi-active moralist: Is respectably moral but his religion is without assurance and is all a matter of duty.
  • Active self-righteous: Is very committed and involved in the church, with assurance of salvation based on good works.
  • Awakened: Is stirred and convicted over his sin but without gospel peace yet.
  • Curious: Is stirred up mainly in an intellectual way, full of questions and diligent in study.
  • Convicted with false peace: Without understanding the gospel, has been told that by walking an aisle, praying a prayer, or doing something he is now right with God.
  • Comfortless: Is extremely aware of sins but not accepting or understanding of the gospel of grace.
  • Apostate: Was once active in the church but has repudiated the faith without regrets.
  • New Believer: Is recently converted.
  • Doubtful: Has many fears and hesitancies about his new faith.
  • Eager: Is beginning with joy and confidence and a zeal to learn and serve.
  • Overzealous: Has become somewhat proud and judgmental of others and is overconfident of his own abilities.
  • Mature/growing: Passes through nearly all of the basic conditions named below but progresses through them because he responds quickly to pastoral treatment or knows how to treat himself.
  • Afflicted: Lives under a burden or trouble that saps spiritual strength (Generally we call a person afflicted who has not brought the trouble on himself).
  • Physically or Emotionally afflicted: Is experiencing bodily decay: (a) the sick; (b) the elderly; (c) the disabled; (d) Dying; (e) Bereaved: Has lost a loved one or experienced some other major loss (e.g., a home through a fire); (f) Lonely; (g) Persecuted/abused; (h) Poor/economic troubles; (i) Desertion: Is spiritually dry through the action of God, who removes a sense of his nearness despite the use of the means of grace
  • Tempted: Is struggling with a sin or sins that are remaining attractive and strong.
  • Overtaken: Is tempted largely in the realm of the thoughts and desires.
  • Taken Over: Has had a sin become addictive behavior.
  • Immature: Is a spiritual baby who should be growing but is not.
  • Undisciplined: Is lazy in using the means of grace and gifts for ministry.
  • Self-satisfied: Has had pride choke his growth, is complacent, and has perhaps become cynical and scornful of many other Christians.
  • Unbalanced: Has had either the intellectual, the emotional, or the volitional aspect of his faith become overemphasized.
  • Devotee of eccentric doctrine: Has become absorbed in a distorted teaching that hinders spiritual growth.
  • Depressed: Is not only experiencing negative feelings but also shirking Christian duties and being disobedient. If a person is a new believer, or tempted or afflicted or immature, and does not get proper treatment, he will become spiritually depressed. Besides these conditions, the following problems can lead to depression: (a) Anxious: Is depressed through worry or fear handled improperly; (b) Weary: Has become listless and dry through overwork; (c) Angry: is depressed through bitterness or uncontrolled anger handled improperly; (d) Introspective: dwells on failures and feelings and lacks assurance; (e) Guilty: Has a wounded conscience and has not reached repentance.
  • Backslid: Has gone beyond depression to a withdrawal from fellowship with God and with the church.
  • Tender: Is still easily convicted of his sins and susceptible to calls for repentance.
  • Hardening: Has become cynical, scornful, and difficult to convict.

*Excerpt adapted from Note #20 in Chapter 6: “Preaching Christ To The Heart” in Tim Keller’s wonderful and Highly Recommended Book: Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism.

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Valley Baptist Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca,, and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 27 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and six grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

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