Who Exactly Am I Preaching To?

“Um, so, did someone tell you about Dave’s job?” an anxious member told me, as she shook my hand on the way out of the auditorium one Sunday morning. “Because it seemed like you were talking to us.”

I told her this was the first I had heard of their fragile employment situation. The sermon was on fear, and we were in uncertain economic times. I had offered, in passing, an example of someone who might be nervous about his or her job. But I wasn’t specifically targeting this family.

It’s difficult to know how to take this kind of comment. One the one hand, I never want people to think I am using the pulpit to preach at one specific person. On the other hand, I want to preach messages that the people in attendance can experience in a personal way. I think about this conversation and several like it often as I reflect on what we do when we preach.

When we stand in the pulpit and open the Word of God, we are doing two things. We are declaring, first of ...

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