I’ve been waiting all Spring for the weather to heat up and finally my prayers have been answered. While its heating up outside we are turning up the temperature inside on Sunday mornings with a series called “Pressure-Points”. Over the next number of weeks we will be discussing, abortion, homosexuality, world religions, mental health and a few other hot topics. These are areas that churches often ignore and then wonder why the average non church person thinks the church is out of date.
Understanding that these topics can be very polarizing I thought I should get advice from those who have walked before me. Here are some resources that I found helpful.
When preaching, speaking, or teaching on these issues it is particularly important for the speaker to identify his or her goal. I’ll put the question bluntly: Is your goal in speaking on a particular controversial issue merely to irritate or inflame or is it to influence? It’s easy to irritate or inflame members of your audience or congregation. It takes no tact, little skill, and not much research to express your opinions on an issue in a way you believe is convincing, but that manages to alienate half of your hearers. To influence people so that they see things differently — that takes skill and a good deal of homework.
- Always treat with respect those who hold opposing views.
- Thoroughly examine your position — the arguments for it and against it.
“As a preacher you should never shy away from tough topics. If the Bible addresses an issue, you should, too. You want to help your people have a holistic view of how biblical truth intersects with every aspect of their lives. But the more controversial the topic the more important it is to handle it with care.”
- Avoid shock-jocking
- Demonstrate that you are being thoroughly biblical
- Understand the religious objections from within your church
- Share your material with others while you prepare
- Be well-informed from a cultural perspective
- Be confident
- Be Humble
- Consider providing a forum for questions and answers
“You’ve chosen to preach on a hot topic—gay marriage, global climate change, immigration, abortion, or another headline-generating issue. Well and good—you’ll win major points for relevance. Some people will come to see what you think; others will come to see if you’re right (meaning, if hey agree with you). But you can win the battle and lose the war. Relevance without effectiveness isn’t really relevant.”
- Don’t Assume People Agree With The Bible
- Don’t Assume People Disagree With The Bible
- Make Your Answers To Simple
- Rush To Jesus
- Don’t Rush To Jesus
By the end of our series I’m sure I will have more insights to share. But no matter the topic I think Peter sums up the correct approach:
“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)