Session Two: Missional Preaching – Exegeting Culture to Preach to It (Alex Early)

Alex Earlybook1 [These are Session 2 Notes from the Preach The Word 2013 Acts 29 West Regional Conference in Reno, NV]



Exegesis (defined): to lead out/extract from (exit; excavate)

•The Bible is very dangerous. If you want your life to remain unchanged, your ministry to be lack-luster, and your church to sing songs about Jesus with their hands in their pockets, ignore this book.•

Reading the Bible is like trying to ingest dynamite (it reads you better than you read it (living and active)

We want to talk about how to read your bible and use it well (crave it; can’t get enough of it)

The Bible shapes the way you think, believe, and behave; it takes over!

Read Matthew 11:19 – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

–>this reality kept me up at night (I was content to study Jesus the way you study a specimen in a lab)

**Jesus is not a subject to be studied but a person to be encountered.**

“I was content to study Him but not know Him”

Friendship is not acquaintance.

Think of it this way: “If you scrolled through Jesus’ phone today you’d find the name of repeat offenders, street girls, drunks, convicts, and drug dealers.”

“I can’t tell you how revolutionary this is.. Well, it’s 2000 years later and we’re talking about this in Reno!”

God forbid the local sex industry have a bigger vision for the city of Reno than the local church.

__bicycle bar & kick starter story — they’re changing the city. What are you doing?

We shouldn’t see the prostitute and say “God I hope my daughter doesn’t turn out that way” but “God she should be worshipping you.. [one day] she should lead our women’s ministry.”

Know this: “Jesus is more alive than the person in front of you.” // He is tangible; sought after; vibrant; alive

“If Christians would stop blogging, digging, and tweeting …” [section fill in once audio releases]

“Jesus is more alive than Rob Bell. He could even bring Rob Bell around.”

“Who in the city is beyond the saving grace of God?” — we must know this

If you’re a preacher you must be DOMINATED and consumed by the grace of God.

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace – of bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel – after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps – suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started… Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.” ~ Robert Capon

This CHANGES how we preach

***The message is for those … [pull from audio; Too Good a section to not put word for word; exemplifies how the Gospel is for people of all spectrums, in every walk of life, struggle, perspective, and intellect level]

THIS is the Gospel and it is the most inclusive message you will ever hear while also holding the most exclusive claims for men and women ever in the scope of history!

“You need to preach the Gospel in such a way that you butt up on the line of universalism.. People should be saying ‘this guy believes ANYONE can go to heaven BECAUSE I DO!”

–Luke 15 (prodigal son) from Jesus Storybook Bible

Now take a look back at Luke 15:20 – for you people who love looking at it in the Greek.. The storybook bible translated it better (“He couldn’t stop kissing him!”)

This is the heart of God

The most undignified thing I’ve heard if in all my life happens to also be the most true thing ever to happen in the world.

Missional preaching is not something you work at, it’s something you work out.

If you want to preach effectively, think of where you were the night before you met Jesus.

Can you remember the feeling of being dominated by everyone else’s opinion? The despair?

If you preach out of honesty, brokenness, and true dependency on Jesus, (you’ll preach very differently)

“Nothing attracts people better than a broken man putting an amplifier up to Jesus, who is mending his broken heart…. And nothing repels people more than someone who fakes it”

Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel puts it this way:

When I get honest, I admit (that) I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting (yet) suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

We’re in a state of already/not yet

It doesn’t hurt to amplify your weakness because when you boast in your weakness, CHRIST is made great! 

The moment you preach like you’ve arrived is the moment you miss it.

J.I.Packer was once asked to summarize the Gospel and after decades of ministry he sums it up to these three words: God saves sinners.

The Gospel message must be made explicitly (abundantly!) clear (in our preaching))!

The Gospel mission is making disciples.. Who make disciples.. who make disciples.. who make disciples

*Hermeneutics (defined): the art of interpreting (be it literature, culture, relationships, etc.)

Gadamer puts it this way: “Hermeneutics is above all a practice, the art of understanding and of making something understood to someone else.”

We exegete scripture, culture, congregation, and self

When you approach your bible, how do you approach the text (you must make up your mind before you read it who is in charge; that will determine the interpretation and application (or misapplication) of the text)

    Is it… (Section; pull from audio)

    Or is it… (Section; pull from audio)

Do you go to the Bible and stand on top of it, dominating over it, twisting what you want (Paul -> Timothy “that’s tickling people’s ears.. Twisting scripture, taking scripture out of context.. Going home feeling justified but more condemned than when they began)

Or do you come beneath it,

“The message is in authority over you WHEN YOU HATE IT MOST”

If you read the bible and are not angered, annoyed, and provoked, YOU AREN’T PAYING ATTENTION!

It came to wage war on you. To cut you up.

And to heal you.

**If it’s not provoking you, invite the author who wrote it.

“It’s the only book in the history of the world where the author is always present with the reader”

Chris Wright in The Mission of God writes: “[A] missional reading of such texts is very definitely not a matter of, first, finding the “real” meaning by objective exegesis, and only then, secondly, cranking up some “missiological implications” as a homiletic supplement to the “text itself.” Rather, it is to see how a text often has its origin in some issue, need, controversy, or threat which the people of God needed to address in the context of their mission. The text in itself is a product of mission in action.” (p.49)

The bible is a book of people taking notes of being on mission (it’s a book of missional records)

-Emergents run into culture without the bible

-Evangelists run into culture wielding the bible.

“All theology is polemical” (every theological statement is an argument)

Paul’s writings as “occasional” documents (“occasions” Corinth drunk on communion wine; Galatia confusing grace and works; Thessalonica thought Jesus already returned)

The bible responds to cultural issues in the here and now! (Original intended meaning, context, recipient. GO TO THAT)

-2) Kevin Vanhoozer (Everyday Theology.. P.17) “an Inability to interpret the signs of the times is.. to be guilty of what we might call ‘The Great Omission’.”

Men filled with the Holy Spirit study these things (mapping, cultural trends, etc) for a greater end (the Kingdom of God reigning in that city)

As Christians we want to address questions the culture is actually asking (not asked 10 years ago)

-Many apologists focus in winning the fight, and in doing so you’ll lose the person.-

**Acts 17:16,23 – Paul is just standing in the city, sees the idols (provoked!) and open “I perceive that..”

Want to know the greatest way to be a great missionary? Pay attention.

The guys that are great missionaries are made up of intentionality

Paul is studying the city where he lives (asking questions like: who are the artists, culture shapers, local agendas, etc? What’s crime rate like in my city? What’re the goals, beliefs, values of my city? What times of day does everything come alive? What is loved/hated about my city? What does the media say about my city? Who’s hurting in my city?)

We ask for this reason; “What’s wrong with Jesus in this city?”

Not because “I’m right” but “my God is THAT GREAT!”

Who knows about my city?

Bank clerks, hair stylists, grocery store checkout people, project managers at construction sites

Historically, Christians are behind the trend.

_(Bible belt: baptist church reference.. “Haven’t done this all week”) [will pull full section from audio: basically, to use the baptist church as a reference, he explains how a lost person steps into church on a Sunday and sees a massive organ and thinks ‘haven’t seen one of those all week’, sits in a wooden chair positioned in rows ‘haven’t sat in this all week’, ‘haven’t seen stained glass all week,’ ‘haven’t talked in greek or read hebrew all week,’ ‘haven’t used (such and such) terminology all week’ and yet we wonder why the lost are not engaged.]

They leave saying “I’m disinterested because you’re on the cutting edge of the 16th century!”

Preach to the ones you want to see in your seats, not the ones you already have.

Preach to the people that aren’t there yet (atheists, homosexuals that meet Jesus, racists, classists, etc)

•Exegete culture (media, news, etc)

•Exegete your congregations (shepherds ought to smell like sheep. Not CEOs)

Pastors need to sound like and talk like they’ve been among their people

You start asking “what are the world views and values within my congregation? Issues? What celebrities are influencing my people? How do they feel about healthcare? War?”

They shape the people and therefore a missional Christian cannot neglect those directly around them.

You must avoid being locked up in ONLY your church’s culture

(Example: Christian church, Christian wife, Christian family, ……) [again, I’ll pull this from the audio. This is too good a rant to not include in it’s entirety]

•You can live your entire life where the people that Jesus sought to impact don’t even know you exist.•

1 Tim 3:7 – an elder is well thought of by outsiders

Do lost people LIKE you? Not just know you exist. (Invite you to parties, hang out, etc)

“One of the greatest ways God saves people is through just ENJOYING yourself”

“Relational evangelism” is a cop out. [will transcribe section from audio]

The bible doesn’t say “Jesus has a relationship with prostitutes.. No. He’s their FRIEND”

Pastors: summarizing the Gospel in 140 characters on twitter is not spreading the Gospel or being missional.

“God didn’t call us to tweet”

Look at your twitter followers. Who’s following you? Church people. Who aren’t? Billions of lost people.

“Would you say what’s in your Facebook status to a room that’s filled with lost people?”

Would you use that terminology?

If a lost friend that you meet we’re to look you up online, would they be freaked out, or would it be in line with what they just saw 10 mins ago?

Would they hang out with you in person and say “Well he really couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. At least he’s consistent” (with the way he portrays himself online versus in person)

-This will cost you. 

-This will be uncomfortable.

(the people you hang out with are worshipping different gods)

Life is supposed to feel awkward

“It is awkward! (Just recall to yourself the various truths we believe)

-This will cost you your reputation.

You can’t care what some religious folks think about you.

You will get heat from both sides (both pagans and religious folk disagree with your methods/beliefs)

-This will cost you time (lost people call you whenever because they need you, their FRIEND, to show up and help)

Rides to work

-This will cost you monetarily (meals out, concerts, games)

Reroute your budget for being missional

Does your church even have a budget to hang out with lost people? (Pastor should be a missionary; well thought of)

-This will cost you emotionally (stories of rape, abuse, suicides; abandonment, horror stories of being trapped)

*We need to actually live in the world that Jesus came to redeem*

To deal with that emotion you’re going to need the Jesus who sent you there.

You’ll need familial support (not every wife is prone to say “sure honey, go hang out with the lesbian”)

Does your family support a missional lifestyle?

Remember: You bring baggage to the lost, too.

The people in your church, and the people in your city, are worth the time, sweat, dollars, and effort. They’re worth more than your time, talent and treasure. They are worth Jesus’ blood.”

**Don’t think for a moment that this missional lifestyle will cost you more than it has cost God (His son)**


One thought on “Session Two: Missional Preaching – Exegeting Culture to Preach to It (Alex Early)

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