I was listening to a preacher this weekend preaching a sermon that began to sound like this:
The Bible Character is no good. The Bible Character did wrong. Let me tell you how bad this Bible Character was.
Then the preacher began to rail into the congregation.
Some of you are just like that Bible Character. You are mean like that character. You don’t have compassion. You don’t have the Love of God. You are just as bad and you better straighten up.
Then the preacher gave the appeal.
If anyone wishes to come to Jesus please come down.
Sometimes you will find a preacher who studies impeccably, the preacher brings together sermons that make the people shout and holla. The preacher gets invitations to preach in many locales, but there is no lasting change among the hearers. They come, shout at the entertaining presentation and leave. There can be many reasons for such an outcome. However, one of the primary ones is a lack of prayer.
Where Does Your Wisdom Come From?
It has been about seven years since I took the course “Theology and Preaching in Worship” from Vanderbilt Divinity School under Dr. L. Susan Bond, but I will ever be thankful to her for her prodding of the students to have a sound theological rationale for all that we do. It was in that class that I was introduced to the marvelous works of the Lutheran theologian Marva Dawn.
James Harris, in Preaching Liberation, writes:
I am suggesting that style and substance are partners in preaching liberation. The way the sermon is preached–the style of delivery, the involvement of body and mind, the engagement of the audience, the rhythmic crescendos and decrescendos of the voice punctuated by staccato cadences and words uttered in musical style–all this is, to a degree, as important as the substance of what is being said.