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Ed Stetzer’s Latest on Transformational Preaching

by Joe Pursch on July 12th, 2010

I really benefited from Ed Stetzer’s latest work on Transformational Preaching. You can enjoy the entire article here, but I’ve included a portion below because it spoke so clearly to the increased effort I am making to understand the “blockages to belief in Biblical change” that inhabit the inner lives of my hearers when I preach.

If nothing else, any preacher can use the principles he lists below as a prayer list for the Spirit’s probing during his next preaching message. I plan to also use it as a tip sheet to myself before I go onto the platform. I’ll use it to ask myself, “Have I built into this message some “hand-holds” for people who are trapped, stubborn, comfortable or afraid when it comes to life change.”

In regard to Transformational Preaching, Stetzer writes:

“We are called to put off the “old man” and take hold of the “new man.” But we all know that letting go of the familiar is difficult, even when the new that is offered is better. For some reason, it seems part of our psyche to resist change, even when it will help. Here are some of the reasons that change is difficult for people:

a. Because people are stubborn

Have you ever tried to take something out of a two-year-old’s hand? Much to the dismay of every parent, two-year-olds are amazingly strong and nimble. When they want to hold onto a toy, it takes ninja-like reflexes to get it from them.

But we are all just like them. We gain a laser-focus on what we hope to keep. Many people simply need to realize that it is time to unclench our fist and allow the Christ to embrace us.

b. Because people are trapped

Perhaps you’ve heard the illustration of how to trap a monkey. All you need is a rock and a coconut. Drill a hole in the coconut large enough to put the rock inside, but not large enough for anything else. A monkey will reach inside to take hold of the rock, but its clenched fist around the rock will not fit back through the hole. The monkey will, in effect, trap itself because of a refusal to let go of the rock.

Many Christians trap themselves with a clenched fist. Holding onto pride, hobbies, preferences, or any other thing can keep a person from the new life Christ wishes to form in them.

c. Because people are comfortable

Did you know that some people still use a rotary-dial phone? I don’t know why they are still in existence. But if you have one, it still works—at least in some parts of the country. Why would someone continue to use a piece of technology that is inferior? Because they are comfortable with it. It is familiar, and they have mastered it.

Are there places like that in the spiritual lives of your listeners? Absolutely. We get comfortable with sins that keep us from knowing Christ better. We get comfortable with irrelevant practices at church that keep others from understanding the gospel. We get comfortable with our standard of living, and it keeps us from the mission of God’s kingdom. We need to take hold of something better: God’s agenda for a missionary people.

d. Because we are afraid

Fear of the unknown is a primary reason people don’t change. Some think following Jesus will make them a fanatic or, at the very least, socially awkward. Not knowing what God will ask of them causes many to shy away from the new life offered by Jesus. It can even paralyze Christians from fully embracing the new life they have inherited.

e. Because change hurts

It is hard to change. Even good change costs some of a person’s security. Leaving the proverbial “comfort zone” will cause a ripple effect that carries a price. But for what God wants to give us and wants of us, change is required.

When talking about this, I often remind churches and individuals that people never change until the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of change. From a minor adjustment to a complete overhaul, change has a price-tag. It hurts to reorganize an office, lose weight, or correct a sinful behavior. But the change is necessary even when it hurts. The only question remaining for most people is what hurts worse: staying where they are or getting where they want to be?

The extent of the change God wants is worth facing the stubbornness and fear.”

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