Perhaps you've heard someone say he didn't like someone's "preachiness," or he said, "stop being preachy." Generally preachiness refers to stylistic aspects of someone's speech. According to this understanding, someone may not have preached unless he takes on that speech quality. Certain men haven't "preached" unless they get a "preachy" style of speech, a particular timber and cadence to their voice. Many mistake this quality for something spiritual occurring.
Preaching isn't a style of speech. Both the verb "preach" and the noun "preacher" (kerusso and kerux) don't refer to a style of speech. The "preacher," the kerux, is a herald, that is, he speaks on behalf of someone in authority, a king. "Preaching" is heralding or proclaiming the king's message. "Preaching" relates to the content. It must be the king's message. If it isn't the king's message, no heralding, no preaching actually took place.
I've heard a lot of speech through the years that wasn't preaching and so the speaker wasn't a preacher. However, the person did have a preachy voice and style to him that said to many that he was preaching. I've sat through sermons that were a different message than what God said. The message didn't represent God, but misrepresented Him. It was counted as good preaching because of the style, not because of the message.
My first criteria for preaching, how I determine whether it was a success, is that it must be what God's Word says. It must come from the Bible and it must reveal, unfold, expose what God said in His Word. If someone delivers in an accurate way what the Bible says, I believe he has preached. He has succeeded at preaching. Preaching is the content, not the style.
In other words, someone could use a preachy voice and not preach and use a non-preachy voice and preach. Any more, as soon as I hear a preachy voice, there is an instinct to think someone is not going to preach. He's going to be preachy, but he's not going to preach a passage.
I've hinted at a corollary to the theme of this post. Some people think that the preachy voice means that the Holy Spirit is doing something through someone. A man speaks in a normal, conversational voice when you talk to him, but he turns into this preachy voice when he gets in front of people for a speech. The man is talking, but now the Holy Spirit is working in some special way as signaled by the affected style of speech.
Parallel to the corollary of the previous paragraph is the thought that the Holy Spirit is doing something through a man with a preachy voice. Because he has the preachy voice, the idea is that the hearers are getting something from the Holy Spirit. The man opens the Bible and begins to preach a message with the preachy delivery and people are moved or smitten or affected by how he does it. They think that is the Holy Spirit working and it is good preaching.
When someone uses a preachy voice, the standard for whether his speech is preaching hasn't changed. A person still must consider whether what the man is saying is in fact from the Word of God. He may open the Bible and he may even use words from the Bible, but that does not mean he has preached the Bible. Sometimes, as I wrote before, it is just the opposite. However, men often are credited with having said something authoritative and as if it were from God without it having been said in the Bible or even in the passage they have used. It doesn't matter to many in many audiences, because the style transcends the substance of the speech. He may deliver a false message or one that is of little to no value, but because it was communicated in the affected style, preaching occurred, and the message is accepted.
What I'm describing is a sort of continuationism in thousands and thousands of churches throughout the world. It exists all over fundamentalism and among independent Baptists. I don't say this because it is wrong to be an independent Baptist. I'm an independent Baptist. Some of what I'm portraying here at its best is bad preaching. Much of it isn't preaching and yet its hearers not only think it is, but it is good. This is one of the worst devastation of discernment in churches today. People rarely hear preaching or good preaching and they don't even know it. What they are hearing they accept because they think it is of God, because of a feeling they get, that they think is the Holy Spirit. I know what I'm writing is not only true, but it is prevalent.
Someone might have a contrived vocal quality and still deliver what the Bible says. I can fight my way through the style to get something from that. I would rather that he use his normal voice. I would call that authentic. Preaching is better when it is authentic. It is true. I believe that the person giving it also believes it in part because he is not using a contrived voice. When I hear a fake voice then it's hard for me to get past the person being a fake. Like I said, I fight it, when I hear it, but I hope someone reads this, and stops speaking with his fake preachy voice. Some of those men think they aren't preaching unless they use that voice for reasons I explained above.
When someone uses a preachy voice, I can listen to it and enjoy it if it is biblical in content. However, something has gone wrong when someone uses a fake voice. At some point, that person has been conditioned either by what he has heard or by what he has been taught to think that the fake voice is needed to be preaching. He should use a normal voice, his real voice. That doesn't mean he must go all out monotone. If he believes what he is preaching and he cares for his audience, he can communicate it in an interesting way. Many would call that, keeping it real.
A major influence of what I'm explaining here comes from pastors who have conferences. They allow men to "preach" who are not actually preaching. This spreads this false idea of preaching. These men are failing to prove all things. This encourages more of the same. When I attend a conference, first, I want to hear preaching, what is actually preaching. Second, I want good preaching. I want someone who is skilled at digging out what God says in His Word. The good preacher studies and then he delivers what he learned form the Word of God in a clear and practical way. It's better if he argues and provokes thought, like we see with biblical preachers. Most of all, he needs to tell us what the passage says.
I believe it is very, very harmful when we authenticate non-preaching as preaching and bad preaching as good preaching, just because of its affect on people. We've got some options with bad preaching. We can walk out on it. We can stay in a generous way, hoping that it was just an exception, and then talk to the person later. We shouldn't put up with it. Putting up with it is why it continues.