The Jazz Theologian has just written an article for reflection. The article is entitled “Marginal Christianity.” In that article, Robert Gelinas uses Dr.
Marvin McMickle, in his work Where Have All The Prophets Gone writes about one of the biggest heresies that has grabbed hold of the church. This one is the idea that Christians are some how immune from suffering, sickness, or pain.
Some preachers preach a message that demonstrate that they are disconnected from the pressures and pains of the lives of their congregants. No doubt being a pastor has unique challenges, but some preachers are not able to translate their own struggles into something that can be useful to the congregation.
William Willimon in The Intrusive Word writes that “We ought to preach as if we were opening a package that could be packed with dynamite.” By that he means that we should expect dislocation, surprises, and jolts. Too often we package our sermons in a neatly finished package where we know all the answers and God always acts the way we expect. We create a world in the sermon that is much unlike our own world.
Good Always Wins?
Olin P. Moyd writes in The Sacred Art: “The power of God is not Theory. The power of God is action.” What Moyd is getting at is that when we preach about the power of God, it is important not to turn it into a theory. I remember when I was taking Calculus in college.
There are many things that you can do to improve your preaching. However there are two specific things that will help others understand what you are attempting to say in the sermon. The first of these is to shorten your sermon.
Shorten Your Sermon
One of the greatest temptations preachers face is not to teach hell fire and obedience. Neither is it necessarily to preach a grace that does not lead to and is devoid of obedience. Some might argue that it is to preach an individualistic gospel without any repurcutions for our corporate living. Others might say that it is to totally ignore individual piety as an important category for theological reflection.
Preaching What People Want to Hear
William Willimon writes on page 129 in The Intrusive Word:
Our main task is not to be entertaining, or interesting, or thoughtful in our preaching. Our task is to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them … and teaching them.
This past week a customer purchased a few of my books and wanted some sermon consultation on an upcoming sermon. He was to preach for an education day program. As we progressed in the steps of my own sermon creation methodology I emphasized a few points to my student.
You are Preaching a Sermon
Peter Mead at the Biblical Preaching website ponders what is missing from today’s preaching. He believes that what is largely missing from todays preaching is a knowledge of the Bible. I think this is true. Many of us do not have the knowledge of the Bible that is needed to make the Bible relevant to today’s world.
How should a sermon progress? We all have heard sermons that just seemed to progress at the perfect rate. Then we have heard others that climaxed too soon or not at all. We have spoken on the progress of the sermon by making use of the Whooping Curve which graphs sermonic intensity.
Last night while listening to sermons on youtube and other places, I found a preacher who was “whooping.” As we know, the whoop is one type of sermonic close used by some preachers in the African American preaching tradition. The preacher was summarizing and celebrating the truth of the message.