Here is a lesson I’ve learned pastoring a church that is 75% unchurched and dechurched. When you use biblical illustrations it gives you credibility with Christians. When you use cultural illustrations it gives you credibility with the unchurched and dechurched. Who are you catering to? We need to reach both/and.
The most important thing in preaching isn’t what you say. It’s what people hear. And people only hear things they perceive as relevant to their lives. Perceived relevance will make or break you as a preacher.
The way to increase the level of perceived relevance is to talk about things people are thinking about. That’s what Jesus did in Luke 13:4. He references the tower of Siloam that killed eighteen Galileans. Why? Because it was on the frontal lobes of everyone listening to him!
Let’s not just talk. Let’s be heard. Biblical exegesis is half the battle. Cultural exegesis is the other half.
I think I remember Erwin McManus bringing up the idea of Biblical and cultural exegesis in his book, An Unstoppable Force. It’s a great way to get your head around a real truth and something that has stuck with me ever since I first read it. It’s that whole combination of theology and practical living. We’ve got to know the Word. But if we’re so caught up in the details of how a single word should be translated or how church should be done that we never go out and talk to anyone about our God who changes lives, we’ve missed the point, right?
Christians need to first know the word and the God who inspired it. But they also need to know the world and know how to have fun with people! Maybe we need small talk and hobby classes right alongside our Bible studies. New Chrisitians who actually know how to have fun can teach those of us who are too stuffy how to lighten up a little.