Some pastors, when preaching about human sin and God’s salvation, say, “We” and “Us”. “We are sinners.” “Jesus died for us.” Others replace those pronouns with “You.” Why the difference?
Some have suggested that pastors who say, “You” are self-righteous and don’t recognize their own sin. But that’s neither fair nor accurate.
Preaching is proclamation. It’s, “I have an important message for you.” Even when spoken to a large congregation, preaching is personal, directed at each individual. St. Paul, the “Chief of Sinners” usually wrote and preached in the second person. Jesus died for you. Yes, you.
At the same time, we sometimes preach in the first person plural. Why? Because when we preach, we’re preaching to ourselves as well. We need to hear that Jesus died for us, too, and that we’re all sinners, regardless of what collar we wear, white, blue, or black.
Personally, I try to match the text I’m preaching on. If the text uses “we,” I preach the same. But that’s my style, not everyone’s. And I often switch between the two in the same sermon because I do include myself in my thoughts as I prepare the sermon and simply forget to say, “You.”
We are all sinners, but aren’t you glad Jesus died for you? I know I am!