MARSHALL, Mich.—At Grace Baptist Church, ministry leaders and seminary students attended the Michigan Expositors Summit April 15 to become better expositors of God’s Word. The Southern Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches sponsors this free annual half-day seminar.
Attendees heard from speaker Ken Brown, pastor of Community Bible Church of Detroit.
“It’s an honor to be here, because of who asked,” Ken said in his first session, “Preaching to the Unchurched.”
That person who asked Ken to speak was Brandon Crawford, pastor of Grace Baptist Church since 2010 and a hospice chaplain endorsed by Regular Baptist Chaplaincy. Ken has known Brandon for many years, as he grew up attending Huron Baptist Church, Flat Rock, Michigan, the parent church of Community Bible Church. Ken was associate pastor of Huron Baptist Church for nine years before planting Community Bible Church in 2001.
Though Ken graciously disagrees, event organizers say that he has a “rare ability to connect with people of all backgrounds and to communicate the riches of God’s Word to them in ways that all understand, yet without sacrificing his commitment to serious, expository preaching.”
Pastors, while they’re preaching, need to remember that they’re talking not only to Biblically literate believers but also to the unsaved, new believers, and the unchurched, Ken said in his first session. (And unchurched, he points out, does not mean “unsaved.” Unchurched people could be those who professed Christ as Savior but have not attended church before.)
While preaching, “think about what you’re saying and how it’s going to be received by those who don’t know the Bible,” he advises. Choose your words carefully; eliminate, explain, or reword Biblical terms that might be confusing, even using the words “the first part of your Bible” instead of “the Old Testament” and “the Bible says” rather than “Moses says” or “Paul says.”
Don’t let an unfamiliar term become an unnecessary barrier, leaving someone wondering, “Who’s Paul?”
Demonstrating Ken’s point, an attendee raised his hand.
“Did you have your hand up?” Ken asked, inviting the dialogue.
“I’m Paul,” the attendee said, resulting in laughter throughout the room.
In addition to this “language gap,” Ken also “explained the ‘culture gap’ and ‘relevancy gap’ between the churched and unchurched and how pastors might shape their messages to bridge those gaps,” Brandon says.
In “Cultivating Your Pulpit Presence,” Ken “suggested ways that pastors might become less self-conscious in the pulpit in order to develop a more natural speaking style,” Brandon says. “His suggestions were simple: they should reflect deeply on their preaching text, apply it to their own lives first, and then cultivate a passion to connect with the audience. He also encouraged pastors to resist the temptation to draw undue attention to themselves with joke-telling and other gimmicks.”
And in “Preaching for a Lifetime,” Brandon relates, Ken “offered practical suggestions for planning one’s preaching calendar, crafting individual sermons, and guarding one’s weekly schedule in order to have enough time to prepare fresh messages each week.”
Each participant received a complete set of Ken’s teaching notes and a book on homiletics.
Next year’s Michigan Expositors Summit, on March 31, will address “Preaching Difficult Texts of the Old Testament.”