‘Non-directive’ preaching is no preaching at all

‘Non-directive’ preaching is no preaching at all
Simon Arscott
Simon Arscott Simon has been sent by the International Presbyterian Church to lead All Nations Church, Ilford. Born and bred south of the river in Camberwell, London, he studied in York.
09 March, 2023 4 min read

It sounds like something straight from George Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’. But it is in fact language that the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee are using as they explore outlawing ‘conversion therapy’. The committee has concluded that religious teaching and prayer about sexual identity should only be permitted if it’s conducted in a ‘non-directive way’.

I love the thought of Christian preachers working out what ‘non-directive’ preaching looks like! It’s a bit like the invention of the ‘stationary’ car, an ‘opaque’ pair of spectacles. The language of ‘non-directive’ religious teaching is almost comical in its failure to appreciate the first thing about human beings and God.

PC Pentecost

I can imagine the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost, standing up to announce to the crowds that they have crucified the Christ, but that God has raised him from the dead. When he gets to the climax of his sermon, Peter says: ‘Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 2:38).

But then he remembers the Scottish legislation and corrects himself: ‘Whoops! Sorry, I mean… I’d love you to think about all of that, but in a non-directive way, of course! And if anyone would possibly, maybe, like the idea of being baptised, come and talk to us. But please understand there’s no pressure, no obligation, at all!’

Maybe the members of the Equalities Committee have experienced ‘non-directive’ preaching from pulpits. I admit there’s plenty of it around, and it can be sleep-inducing. But it’s not actually real preaching. All true preaching is ‘directive’ by definition. If it’s not directive, it’s not preaching!

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