I Feel Good...But Should I?
In a comment to yesterday's post about the differences between preaching and teaching, Brian said:
"When I hear that preaching is to be inspirational, that can be interpreted to mean 'inspiring the church to action', but I think inspirational can imply that the audience leaves feeling good, and I think if that is the extent of inspiration that takes place, the church loses momentum."
I'm pretty sure I know what Brian's talking about. I think he's speaking out against messages that are often called "feel good" messages -- sermons and/or lessons designed to make the listeners feel good about themselves, about their beliefs, about their lives, etc. Critics will say that these messages do nothing, they have no teeth, they don't challenge the audience to any kind of change.
I wonder if we could say that about, say, some of the sermons of MLK, Jr. His sermons seem to have been aimed at helping the immediate audience make sense of life and feel better about things. But he also knew that there would be an audience outside of those immediately gathered who would read or hear his words and be greatly challenged, even disturbed.
There are times when life is hard, and the last thing a person needs is to go to church and get kicked in the shins. Now...don't get me wrong. Sometimes a good kick is precisely what a person needs. But sometimes a person needs gentle words. Sometimes a person needs to feel good, right?
That's not a rhetorical question. It's an actual question for you to answer:
Should preaching make you feel good?