Preaching in a sceptical Spain
More than 140 preachers from different evangelical denominations encouraged each other to preach from the Word of God to today's culture. Chris Wright, Mark Meynell and Alex Chiang participated.
MADRID · 04 NOVEMBER 2022 · 10:33 CET
Over 140 preachers from different evangelical denominations in Spain challenged each other to preach from the Word of God to a sceptical culture.
The constant buzz of conversations in hallways, cafeteria, workshop rooms, during the first national Taller de Predicación (Preaching Workshops) conference in El Escorial (Madrid), describes well one of the goals of the movement that has been established in many Spanish regions in the last decade.
“How do you plan and coordinate messages among preachers in your church?” “How do you train young people to teach others?” “Do you manage to connect with non-believers?” “What impact do your preachings have when posted on the internet?” These kinds of spontaneous interactions were added over 4 days (29 October to 1 November) to more scheduled initiatives, such as small groups where most attendees presented their 10-minute “mini-preaching” that was to be evaluated by fellow participants whom in many cases they had greeted for the first time moments before.
The autumn weather of the Guadarrama mountains also welcomed the two British and the Peruvian who gave the plenary training sessions. The Northern Irish theologian Chris Wright, head of Langham Preaching (a ministry founded by John Stott whose aim is to promote indigenous preaching movements throughout the world) was accompanied from England by Mark Meynell, head of the European area, and former missionary in Uganda. In addition, Alex Chiang, pastor of Alianza Cristiana y Misionera, who was also an IFES worker in Peru, contributed his experience from Latin America.
The gospel in a sceptical Europe
The origin and impact of scepticism in today’s secularised Europe was Mark Meynell’s starting point on the first evening. Historically, the continent has gone through 3 stages of secularisation: the initial separation between sacred and secular, the later emergence of a sceptical rationalism claiming “the neutrality of a public square devoid of God”, and the current scenario in which the “alternatives are infinite” and the ultimate allegiance is always to the individual.
Addressing how scepticism has advanced science and democracies, Meynell argued that it has also had a “corrosive power” that has undermined any belief in metanarratives (big stories that make sense of life). This has affected the Bible’s view of history, but also other central human convictions such personal identities. “Only the gospel can fully subvert modern scepticism”, Meynell argued, “with truth, love and interdependent communities that all take the form of the Cross”.
Jeremiah, faithful and relevant in a sceptical world
The theme of the meeting (“Preachers of Christ in a sceptical world”) took the prophet Jeremiah as its thread.
In his presentation on chapter 1 of this book of the Old Testament, Alex Chiang spoke of the similarities between that society and our own, since in both “truth and faithfulness died”. The preacher is a “gift to the nations” (1:15), he emphasised. “The words God gives us to preach to a society in crisis are the words I myself need in the first place”, Chiang said. Churches in Spain cannot have “coldly correct preaching” nor can they have “anti-preaching”: preaching that is very eloquent but with incorrect exegesis. “What makes us good preachers is the presence of God with us”, something necessary because He seeks to “entrust His Word to people who are willing to suffer the realities they preach” in “an often frightening society” (1:8).
Chapter 23 is a rebuke to those pastors so secularised that they cannot imagine the possibility that God could judge his own people, said Mark Meynell in his Bible exposition the following day. “The problem with God’s people is that they forgot the cause that led to the Babylonian exile” to the point that repentance could not be found even in the spiritual leaders of the day. “The lifestyle of the preacher shows whether he is on the side of God or other gods”, he said, especially when “the preacher’s own immorality and exploitation of others prevents him from denouncing the moral reality of his country”. Meynell underlined the “burden” of the preacher in the face of a sceptical world, and the need to “be in the secret of the Lord” (23:18) to experience how the Word of God is “fire” (23:29).
Chris Wright considered on the basis of chapter 29 that, despite exile, God presents his people with “a surprising perspective, a surprising mission and a surprising and good future”. Jeremiah encouraged God’s people to be “benefactors” in a hostile culture, moving “from refugees to resident”, but preparing for “when God was going to use them again”. Applying the text to the present day, Wright said he was increasingly convinced that the West is experiencing the judgement of God” in the terms of Romans chapter 1. But in this context, he concluded, “we are called to be resident, missionary visionaries of the kingdom of God”.
Case studies, worship and prayer
The programme of this first national expository preaching conference also included seminars on topics such as “Preaching and local church growth”, “Evangelistic preaching” or “Preaching under social pressure”. 14 speakers from different evangelical backgrounds in Spain dealt with practical aspects and case studies.
A team from Galicia wrapped up the preaching with times of praise to God focusing on the essence of the gospel and mission.
The evening of 31 October, Reformation Day, was dedicated to prayer for Europe, Spain and for the role of the expository preaching movement in evangelical churches.
What is Taller de Predicación?
The Preaching Workshop began to roll out in Spain in 2013. Its aim is to “raise the level of preaching in all the churches in our country”, by “transmitting tools to preachers, who in turn, will train others”. In short presentations during the meeting, each region (Andalucía, Baleares, Canarias, Castilla-León, Euskadi, Galicia, Comunidad Valenciana and Murcia, Cataluña and Aragón, Madrid) presented their work: more than 500 preachers in 34 active training “circles”.
The movement has already published 6 books.
The strength of Taller de Predicación is that it is a decentralised movement built on its regions, explained Francisco Mira, President of the national committee.
At the state level, Fernando Plou was introduced as the new National Coordinator.
“I firmly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit acting in people’s lives through various means. Among them, a very important one is the preaching of the Word of God”, said Fernando Plou. “I believe it is essential that all of us who have the privilege of serving the Lord through such a precious ministry understand the tremendous responsibility of conveying the message of God’s Word with due fidelity to the text, relevance to our audience and the clarity necessary for that message to be understood by all”. To learn more about how to support Fernando Plou’s work, click here.
Published in: Evangelical Focus - europe - Preaching in a sceptical Spain
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