Keller began his workshop by referencing Alec Motyer’s observation that a preacher has two responsibilities: first, to the truth he proclaims, and second, to the people to whom he proclaims it. Books on preaching tend to focus on the first, neglecting the equally vital work of contextualization and application. This imbalance partly explains why much expository preaching fails to speak to the heart.
The biblical understanding of the heart is unique in human thought. Throughout history, humans have tended to pit the mind and the heart against one another: ancient cultures by elevating reason and virtue to squelch the emotions, and modern cultures by elevating self-expression as the highest goal. In the Bible, however, the heart is the seat of not just our emotions, but also our deepest trust. Preaching to the heart touches not just the emotions, but the entire person, including our thought and will.
Lloyd-Jones also believed the preacher must never go to the other extreme: “Seriousness does not mean solemnity, does not mean sadness, does not mean morbidity.” The Doctor stressed that sobriety is never a license to be dour: “The preacher must never be dull, he must never be boring…With the grand theme and message of the Bible, dullness is impossible.” Expository preaching must never be mundane. Rather, he insists: “This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate.”
“Church is boring”—this is the most oft-stated reason why people stay away from church. It raises some important questions. How is it possible that an encounter with a majestic, awesome, living God could ever be considered boring by anyone? God is not dull. If worship is boring to us, it is not because God is boring. Sermons can be boring and liturgies can be boring, but God simply cannot be boring. The problem, I think, is with the setting, the style, and the content of our worship.