Greg Deloach wants us all to preach naked.
He doesn’t mean preaching without clothes. He means preaching with vulnerability, taking down walls and barriers we put up to hide who we really are. In his Master Class from the 2018 National Festival of Young Preachers, Greg Deloach explains how vulnerability can empower your preaching. In this spotlight, we are diving into four key points from his presentation.
1. Authenticity Instead of Posing
Can your church see who you really are?
Greg acknowledges that some degree of posing, or intentionally presenting yourself to be seen in a certain way, is not inherently wrong. In fact, preachers do it all the time. Many pastors and preachers are careful about how they speak and act in order to present a good “pastoral” image. This is fine if you are guarding against misunderstanding, and if your intention is to present a true image of who you really are.
Posing becomes a problem when you start crafting a misleading narrative. Greg talks about how easily this is seen in social media: “Facebook is a way that I can give you the reality I want to share. I control the pictures you see of me, I control the narrative, I control the storyline. Even my vulnerability is controlled.”
He asks a big question: “Who are you really?” He continues, “Congregants need to hear a sense of authenticity. When you are able to present the realness of a message from a thick place in your life, that is a step towards what I mean by preaching naked.”
So who are you? Is the real you present when you preach, or are you just a poser?
2. Preaching Confessionally
In this portion of the video, Greg just touches on what it means to preach confessionally. He begins to say that it involves letting people into places in your life that may make you uncomfortable.
“When you are preaching confessionally you are allowing people into your own vulnerability.” This includes intellectual vulnerability. You may already be addressing personal struggles and “thick places” in your life, but are you willing to be vulnerable and honest with doubts and opinions?
Later in the full video, he recommends being willing to acknowledge struggles and limitations in understanding Scripture. Watch the clip below.
3. Humility Instead of Arrogance
Do you have an ego? Perhaps it would be more accurate to ask how big your ego is. Greg admits that preaching, believing you have something to say that somebody else really needs to hear, requires some ego.
There is nothing wrong with the sense of calling, but it has to be balanced with humility. How can we balance that? He sums it up simply with two statements: You are not the subject or the object of the proclamation. Humility reminds you that you do not have all the answers.
4. Courageous/Not Fearful
“It requires courage to stand vulnerable before people and speak the truth to power.”
Don’t be afraid! It is a command given all throughout scripture, and it is one that preachers need to remember. Be courageous! Stand strong and speak truth in the face of obstacles and fear.
That being said, don’t be foolish! In the full video, Greg warns against being overly confrontational. There are consequences to hitting a controversial issue without doing so in a wise way that will engage your congregation without shutting them down. As he says in part of the clip below, “What is the point of being a prophetic preacher if nobody is listening?”
As you prepare your next sermon, ask yourself these questions and wrestle with the answers:
- Am I being authentic or am I posing?
- Am I preaching confessionally or dogmatically?
- Am I humble or arrogant?
- Am I being courageous or fearful?
This was just a small sample from a rich Master Class. To watch the full video and see how Greg DeLoach relates Isaiah 20 to preaching with vulnerability today, click here or watch below.
*This article was based on Greg DeLoach’s Master Class at the 2018 National Festival of Young Preachers. Commentary by Nick Bettis.
*The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author(s) or speaker(s) and do not represent the beliefs or positions of the Academy of Preachers. The distribution of content by Academy of Preachers is an effort to fulfill our mission to Identify, Network, Support, and Inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching. Our network and participants are widely diverse in geography, ethnicity, culture, gender, theology, tradition, and practice. We give space for those in our network to contribute their unique voices to a global conversation on gospel preaching and Christian ministry.
Greg DeLoach is a native Georgian, who grew up on a dairy farm outside the small town of Eatonton. While farming is the noble vocation of his father and brother, it was not his calling. At the age of eighteen years he answered God’s call in his life to serve God through serving the local church. Over the years Greg has been loved by some beautiful congregations throughout Georgia, serving pastorates in Mansfield, Chickamauga, and Marietta. In the fall of 2005 the good folks at First Baptist Church of Augusta called him to serve as their Pastor.
Many people and places have helped shape Greg, but none more importantly than his family. Amy and Greg were married on a hot July afternoon in Milledgeville in 1988. They moved from college students in Rome, to seminarians in Louisville, KY, to parsonages and homes, currently tugging along two wonderful sons, Clark and Aaron. When Greg is not behind the pulpit or about the work of the church, he enjoys quiet evenings at home listening to katydids and tree frogs chanting in the evening hours. When time permits, he enjoys oil painting, a talent cultivated by patient teachers and friends, and exploring the outdoors. It is not unusual that Greg can be found pitching a tent in the Appalachian Mountains and breathing in campfire smoke.