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Preacher as Advocate

What it means to identify with your hearers

Whenever you step into the pulpit, you are the advocate of the people who listen to you. You are a mediator of the text for them. You stand between the text and the people, and your role is to help them understand God's Word.

Unfortunately, in our preaching we may adopt an adversarial relationship with our hearers. It's not intentional, and it may come from a desire to preach prophetically, but some of us are more comfortable pronouncing seven woes than five blessings.

I realized this after I left pastoring and went into teaching. I took my place in the pew on Sundays and listened to sermons and realized how often I left the meeting feeling as though someone had beaten up on me. When I looked at some of my older sermons, I realized I too sometimes had an edge.

One of the older preachers who models preaching as an advocate is Helmut Thielicke, who has this wonderful series of sermons based on the Lord's Prayer in a book called The Prayer That Spans the World. Thielicke preached in Stuttgart ...

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