Interesting debate from the intellectuals gathered around Blogotional's contention that preaching is about maturing a flock and not evangalizing.
Interesting might not be the best description. Disconcerting is more appropriate.
I'm neither a scholar nor a professional minister, so perhaps that's why I have a hard time understanding how maturing the flock is somehow a detour or deviation from the plain message of what Christ did on the cross. I cannot think of a single message that does not somehow relate back to the promise of Jesus, the realization of Jesus in the flesh, and the fullfilment of it all in Jesus' death and ressurection.
How is that popular authors like Jerry Cook and Steve Sjogren can be so influential as modern-day thinkers and methodologists while having such a great influence as evangelists in their own congregations? It is because they always remain focused on the main and plain.
Think of any Christian sermon a preacher might give, putting weight into the maturity of the material, and consider how it ultimately relates to the Gospel message:
Message: Gifts of the spirit, determining gifts, fostering gifts, using gifts
Bottom line: Gifts are the tools of the church to minister to each other and to hold revelation of God's power to those not yet saved.
Message: Prayer and fasting
Bottom line: Both are needed for discernment to see what God is doing today, which is to discern how God is revealing Himself to the world right now, where He's doing it, and what He's requiring of you.
Message: Holiness, obedience, faith
Bottom line: No matter how far you work your way into Hebrews, it is impossible to avoid the message of the cross in relating how holiness is only achieved by submitting to the power of the cross. It is not by our works but by the work that God does in us. It begins at the moment we give in to His will by accepting Christ.
I'm not out to criticize anyone, but I do not believe Paul was arguing in favor of moving beyond the simple understanding of the cross by moving away from it. The message of the Cross by any name is the underpinning to all Christian messages. Maturation may be best defined as a continually deepened understanding of the most plain and simple precepts of our faith. As the Spirit writes His law on our hearts, He creates an abiding faith, a joyful contentment that does not want, a yearning for more of God and less of our own flesh.
As I mature, going on 17 years of Christian adulthood, I find I yearn more and more that basic meal of bread and wine. It is not that I do not know that message or that I need to be saved again, but that my journey into God's understanding continually leads me back to this wisdom:
It all leads back to the Cross.
I suggest anyone who thinks this is not the very basis for every Christian message you could possibly give from the pulpit might be missing an important ingredient in their education. You do not have to abandon the flock to grow it, nor do you have to obsess over the flock to keep it. I believe God made it all simple enough, even though we sometimes think we need tosegment and micromanage what he's already perfectly organized.