There is no question you are all in Carey and why wouldn't you? Take away the piety and you are just another motivational speaker. Your livelihood is tied to this identity you have created being an alleged expert on Christian leadership and church growth. But your leadership techniques are all from the world and the only church you have built is the apostate church from which people like Marty Sampson and Joshua Harris one day awaken and realize their lives have been based on lies. Your focus on preaching is a good place to start but true to your blind form, you miss the mark by examining HOW we preach. The true issue is WHAT we preach. Let's hear now the three reasons Carey has identified regarding how we preach:
"1. OUR PREACHING CAN SEEM SHALLOW AND UNRESEARCHED BECAUSE OFTEN IT IS. The Christian faith is hardly simplistic or trivial. But sometimes our sermons are. People today have access to ideas, insights, arguments, and data most didn't have access to even a decade ago. Why? Well, in a single word: the internet. Think back to the early 2000s. The average person listening to a message didn't have easy, instant access to information about whatever subject was being covered on a given Sunday. Perhaps they went to college. Some, of course, were well-read. But the average person mostly only had access to what they saw, heard and read in the mainstream media and what they might here at church. Today, virtually everyone you're speaking to has a phone with them, and not only are some of them fact-checking you when you speak, but many (especially the unchurched and curious) have also already Googled and more deeply researched what you're talking about. Many have read books and even more have listened to podcasts that debate the very subject you're covering. While you might say that's not true of Christians in your church (maybe they only listen to Christian media), I promise it's 100% true of any unchurched people exploring faith and Christians who are questioning their faith. And please hear me. I am not saying Google is the most reliable or scholarly way to get great information or that the information they're accessing online is unbiased, research-based or even helpful. But I am saying it's real. And compared to the intellectual depth of a lot of preaching today, the other sources people are reading and accessing, it's not that hard to preachers to come off as shallow or unresearched." -- Carey Nieuwhof
Sigh. So, your first observation is that preachers preach messages that they have not researched correctly and thus come off as shallow? While I agree that we should always make sure that our messages are accurate, the true issue is in not presenting scriptural accuracy. Your first error is in directing your attention to the lost at all. This is the fundamental underpinning of your false theology. You believe the church should be directed toward and marketed to the goats. The sheep are expected to fall in line or be blessedly subtracted as per the purpose driven church teachings. The bible assures us however that the things of God are foolishness to the unsaved so marketing to them means you must present carnal preaching, not scriptural. Romans promises us that only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man, meaning no one gets saved without the preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I say true because you do not present that Gospel Carey. You present the false gospel mentioned in the key verses that gives people a false christ and thus a false conversion. Sheep come to church to be fed and led and you propose that preachers do neither. Goats come to church because on some level they are desperate and in general because they are in need. That need is a spiritual need Carey that only the Gospel can fill. So, it is not the "how" or being sloppy in presenting facts but rather the "what" of presenting the uncompromised Gospel.
"I've found over the last decade in particular that I'm reading more, not less. Not just commentaries and theological books (which, of course, you need to), but far more widely. Truthfully, at first, I was a little nervous to get outside of my little Christian echo-chamber and school of the already-convinced. I wondered if reading alternative viewpoints would erode or destroy my faith. (It didn't.) But over the last decade as I've read leading authors as varied as Yuval Noah Harrari, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Eckhart Tolle, Robert White, Dan Harris, Sam Harris, Mark Manson and many others (all of whom are not Christian, and some of whom are scathing in their critique of Christianity), I have a much better appreciation of the questions and objections people are carrying with them when they access a sermon, and as a result can address that. I've also listened to hundreds of podcast episodes featuring people who don't share my worldview or faith at all (like Tara Brach for example), and, while I may not agree, it's helped me understand what other people are listening to, exploring and increasingly embracing. I'm not sure today's preachers are winning the intellectual war. To simply offer advice or insight and insight and a clever line or two isn't cutting it anymore, at least if you're speaking to people who are exploring other world views, which I assume you are." -- Carey Nieuwhof
This is a nice tidy summary of everything wrong with the advice Nieuwhof has provided for pastors and churches over the years. Eckhart Tolle is an Oprah endorsed spiritualist. Christopher Hitchens was a violently anti-Christian activist before he was called to stand before Christ. Tara Brach teaches Buddhist meditation. Preachers are not called to win the intellectual war Carey! They are called to win the spiritual war! Intellectualism has never saved a single soul. You cannot convince someone into salvation. It is a wholly supernatural act of God accomplished through the preaching of the true Gospel and the draw of the Holy Spirit. This worldly advice sounds just like where Andy Stanley has been living for a few years now. He noticed his kids who went off to college were coming back atheists once they were confronted by science. Looking at it solely through the carnal lens of Carey Nieuwhof, Stanley decided to stop preaching the inerrancy of scripture and instead rely on convincing youth the Gospel accounts were true using "fact based" arguments. What Stanley needed to do was look at the problem spiritually and realize he was sending youth off to college unsaved because he had stopped preaching the Gospel. The answer to stopping the flow of people leaving the church is not found in the writings of atheist Richard Dawkins. It is found in properly preaching the Gospel.
"And to use the line "just preach the Word and trust God" is a denial of responsibility. There is a power in the text and a power in the Holy Spirit that is undeniable and for which I am deeply grateful and rely on greatly in my preaching. But that doesn't mean you just fail to prepare and hope it all works out. But perhaps one of the reasons God used the Apostle Paul so powerfully is that he was deeply schooled not just in Judaism, but because he understood the mind of the Epicureans, Stoics and Greek philosophers. He understood differing world views and used that knowledge to draw people into the embrace of Jesus as Lord. If God created the mind, then thinking isn't inherently an enemy of faith. In fact, good thinking can just as easily lead back to Christ as it does away from him. I would, of course, argue even more so does good thinking lead to Christ than it leads away from him. Thinking more deeply and praying more deeply are both needed in preaching today." -- Carey Nieuwhof
Preach the word and trust God is not a denial of responsibility -- it is what God has commanded! I know that you want to believe you are God Carey but you are not. It is not man's job, any man, to grow the church. Read the Book of Acts and learn that it is God's job alone. Your presuppositions regarding why God called Paul are not only unsupported by scripture but absurd as well. God uses the simple to confound the wise. Paul's previous life as Saul only served as a reminder to where God found him. It is so sad that you think true faith is an abandonment of the mind. What it is Carey, is an abandonment of yourself. This is not a learned thing to do- to relinquish all to a new Master. To admit you are nothing without Him. There is no good carnal thinking Carey. No matter how much you try to will it into existence. No one searches after God. None are good. Thinking about God and His word on a deeper level is required but I don't think that is what you are advocating for here. Expounding on the collective works of the greatest carnal minds is irrelevant to preaching the Gospel.
"2. KNOCKING DOWN STRAW MEN DOESN'T IMPRESS ANYONE. SHOOT FOR STEEL. It's a classic debating tactic to set up the opposing point of view as a straw argument or straw man (a bad argument), and then knock it/him down to show how compelling your point of view is. A slight variation is to reduce and ridicule the other side until it seems only fools could believe that. Atheists, skeptics and people who embrace alternate spiritualities are not stupid people. Many of them are incredibly intelligent. All of them are made in the image of God. Taking opposing views seriously is one of the best ways to respect people who think differently than you and perhaps gain a hearing. I haven't always done this well, but fast forward to a more recent example of where I tried to engage the opposing view more seriously. Below is the description I wrote for a message I preached earlier this year in a series I called Undrink the KoolAid. The message is about science and faith: Religion is basically how ancients understood the world, but science has taken us so far beyond that. Between what we know about evolution, astronomy, genetics, biology, and so many other sciences, we've explained what we used to attribute to God. If science explains or will explain everything, why do we really need God? I wrote the summary of the message not from a Christian viewpoint, but from an opposing viewpoint because that's exactly how I've heard many atheists and skeptics talk about religion and science. When they read that, they are far more likely to be surprised and say to themselves A church actually understands what I think? Further, a growing number of Christians in your congregation are thinking the same thing. They just haven't said it out loud. Of course, during the message I argue that a deep understanding of science can just as easily lead toward faith as away from it, and quote not only scripture but a number of scientists and then explore the thinking of the 17th-century physicist, mathematician, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. Taking the counter-argument seriously and presenting some of its strongest points makes your argument stronger. And, of course, if you can't counter the counter-argument with strong points, well, that's a whole other issue. Taking the opposing view seriously makes people who hold the opposing view take you more seriously. Ridiculing your opponent makes you less persuasive, not more persuasive. And it makes your viewpoint seem like a far more plausible alternative to theirs. Ridiculing someone rarely makes them want to embrace you or what you stand for. For bonus points, think about how this principle could change the current political discourse. It's really what we all long for, but no one seems to be leading the way. So lead." -- Carey Nieuwhof