Two megachurch pastors
Someone who had been listening to messages of both Joseph Prince of New Creation Church and Kong Hee of City Harvest Church (pastors of the two largest churches in Singapore), made an interesting comment to me.
He said, “When I listen to Joseph Prince, I feel confidence and empowered.” “When I listen to Kong Hee, I feel challenged and want to live for the Lord”.
Marry their preaching strengths
The way he said it made me think: we should marry the two of them. Pastor Joseph Prince is great at preaching the indicatives. He loves exalting who Christ is and what He has accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. Pastor Kong Hee, on the other hand is great at preaching the imperatives- what believers can do now that they are in Christ. He is an inspiring and persuasive speaker. You inevitably feel motivated about doing whatever he is exhorting you to do: the will of God. All indicatives and no imperatives give rise to under-challenged, passive Christians; and too much imperatives give rise to over-worked, joyless Christians. If the two strengths can be married in regular pastoral preaching and teaching, it will grow Christians who are steadfast and joyful in witness and service.
St Paul’s way
The book of Romans has most of its indicatives in chapters 3-11 and its imperatives in chapters 12-15. St Paul talked about what Christ had accomplished and who we are in Christ, and then went on to show us how then we needed to respond. The pivotal verse was Romans 12: 1,2. “Now that I have talked about the indicatives, here are the imperatives!”(the blogpastor translation). A good balance of indicatives and imperatives informed his letter writing to the churches. This should inform our preaching. The indicatives empower us by inspiring and strengthening our faith, hope and love. The imperatives give direction to our spiritual energies and renewed love.
Wise “one talent” pastors
Even if God may not have given all pastors “five talent” abilities like these two have been given, “one or three talents” pastors can still learn to optimise their effectiveness by preaching the indicatives and imperatives according to the needs of the congregations.
Most churches have been influenced in the past decade to give the people imperatives, or as Martin Luther would call, “Law” messages – what you should do and shouldn’t do as Christians; or moralistic sermons, as others would characterize them. These churches should start preaching more of the indicatives, about what Christ has done for and in us, to redress the imbalance in the past diet.
Great, healthy churches need a wise dosage of indicatives and imperatives.