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.
One thought on “Preacher: Who Are You Speaking To Every Week?”
What a great and helpful list. Makes one realize the wide range of perspectives that people bring