Preaching is a mystery to me. I've been blessed to find that I actually enjoy it. In the beginning it was terrifying, truly terrifying to me. Now that I've come to enjoy it I've discovered (developed?) a bit of a conundrum.
It seems that those days in which I leave the pulpit feeling distraught and frustrated because I had been vague, speaking in platitudes, missing the meat of what I needed to say...those days are ones in which folks tell me after the service it was nice and they enjoyed it and even a few folks will come up days later and tell me how much that sermon meant to them or spoke to them. Then there are days like today in which I felt as those I spoke the Gospel, that the Holy Spirit was with me and I came close to saying what was placed before me and everyone in the church looks at me with dead eyes, Joel says I couldn't follow you, I couldn't pay attention and yet I feel like I've actually preached or said something meaningful.
On one hand I am grateful that I never know how my sermons are received, that their reception rarely matching my experience of the delivery because then I am reminded that preaching is not about me. Not really, that it is about God using that space, that time for more than what I can know or understand.
That said, it still leaves me confused and unsure of what I should do. How am I to preach? Am I to preach the stuff that makes people feel good and keeps them pleased or do I preach in the ways that feel like good preaching to me? I preach from my heart either/both ways and I can't say they are opposite things. But some days it feels as though there are these 2 different ways/approaches to preaching and that neither are fully satisfying, at least neither satisfy both parties.
Please drop me a line in the comments or via email because I'm very interested in hearing others' thoughts and experiences about preaching. Perhaps this is a stage of growth and as I develop further they will come closer to being one and the same.