Church Leadership
Why 'Just Preach the Gospel' Is Naïve, Unbiblical Advice
Talk is never enough. When the gospel message flows through us, it is affected by who we are and what we do.

I reject the unbiblical notion of “there's no truth, just interpretation” with every fiber of my being.

But I also reject the false alternative of “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it and do it.”

We can’t read or hear anything without interpretation. Because reading and hearing are interpretive acts.

We can’t read or hear anything without interpretation. Because reading and hearing are interpretive acts by definition.

For instance, when I write or say the word “dog” what comes to your mind? For me, it's our golden retriever, Trixie. For you, it may be a poodle, a pit bull or the dog that bit you when you were a kid. That’s interpretation.

Our individual concepts of “dog” have their differences, but they have enough in common for all of us to agree that a dog is not a cat. Or a car. Or a mathematical equation.

That’s what happens when we read and preach the gospel. Some things are non-negotiable. But many things look and feel different from one person to the next.

For instance, when a pastor says “God is our father”, one person has a warm, fuzzy feeling because they had a great relationship with their dad. The person next to them might bristle at it because their father was abusive. The next person over might feel grateful, because their father died before they were born, so God has been to them what he promised – a father to the fatherless.

It's possible to agree that God is our father, while interpreting what that means in different ways.

We can either be aware of our interpretational baggage or we can ignore it. But it always exists. And it always affects how we preach it and how others hear it.

Preach the gospel. But don’t just preach it.

Live it first. People are less likely to misinterpret it when we do that.

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