As men and women created in the image of God, believers are designed to become like Christ in ever-increasing measure. Effective, biblical preaching taps into this innate longing by helping people envision what God created us to be in Christ. This is the definition of visionary preaching.
Visionary preaching is not content merely to instruct people in the ways of God, or to confront the sin in their lives and the world, or to exhort believers to do better and try harder. Visionary preaching empowers people to pursue God's better future by painting a vivid and compelling picture of that future with words, images, and stories.
Consider one of the pastor's most daunting but essential topics - tithing. Some preachers will explain the Old Testament foundations of tithing and offer some grace-based principles for giving drawn from the New Testament. They assume that once people understand God's expectations they will conscientiously adjust their giving habits. Other preachers will take a more prophetic stance by summoning the words and spirit of Malachi to confront the materialism of our culture and warn believers not to "rob God."
But both of these approaches, the informative and the prophetic, fail to understand how people grow.
Willow Creek's popular REVEAL survey provides us with insights into how and why people grow spiritually. Those identified as "spiritually stalled" in the survey overwhelmingly said the reason was their failure to make spiritual growth a priority in their lives. In other words, the problem isn't that they don't know how to grow, but that they simply don't want to grow. It is not important enough to be a priority.
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