To say that I’m a fan of Law & Gospel preaching would be a severe understatement. That’s like saying human beings are fans of oxygen, or are really into food and water. No, it’s much more than that. If Christians are to be about God’s work at all, then we have no choice but to relentlessly and vigorously apply His words of demand and deliverance to all within earshot. This is not just a preference. This is how God works.
And yet there is time prior to the sermon being preached, the scriptures being read, or the critical “come to Jesus” conversation taking place, where the soil of the human heart and mind are being tilled and readied for the work of “killing and making alive” that happens through God’s Law and God’s Gospel. There is a season where our friends and parishioners, our coworkers and cousins find themselves wrestling with what they perceive to be important and practical theological questions. And the answering of the these questions—or the very willingness of friends, family, or stranger on YouTube to respectfully address them—can go a long way in readying him or her for God’s primary work.
Pew Research notes that one of the fastest growing spiritual categories is that of the “religiously unaffiliated,” those who consider themselves spiritual but are purposely disconnected from any particular faith tradition (Three Spiritual Journeys of Millennials by Barna Group). An emerging downside for this population is that though they still have spiritual questions, they now have no tribe, no church, no pastor, or faith community within which to wrestle with them. They are left to turn to Google with their spiritual questions, or to dig for insight in the videos and articles filling up their feed on social media.
This is where The Spiritual Howcast comes in. It’s a YouTube channel and iTunes podcast that offers practical answers to the spiritual questions of skeptical people in a format that’s insightful, entertaining, and easy to share. In 4 minutes or less, each episode tackles a common question related to religion and spirituality, with the goal of engaging the skeptic directly or equipping the Christians to do so himself. Since launching in January of 2015, the response has been big, with tens of thousands of people engaging with each episode, especially via podcast.
But don’t be mistaken, The Spiritual Howcast, or any such resource, is no match for Law & Gospel preaching nor should it try to be. Consider the Howcast a resource for the conversation before "the conversation," or for the discussion that precedes the “demand" and helps prep for the “deliverance.” It aims to stir up dialogue that can begin a journey toward liberation. A liberation that comes not through learning how spirituality can be done, but by being knocked over with the truth that all of spirituality—all of the work of religion—has already been done, and is finished, in Christ.
Matt Popovits serves as Lead Pastor of Our Saviour | New York (OSNY), a family of parishes working together to love and serve the city of New York. Matt has served as staff writer for Homiletics, a worldwide resource to pastors providing insights and ideas for preaching, and is a frequent speaker at churches and events around the country. Prior to entering ministry, Matt studied acting at the University of Michigan department of Theatre and Dance; and later received his MDiv. from Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis.