We often hear of the need to end a sermon in celebration. Sometimes preachers innately feel the need to end in celebration, but they think that merely hollaring while the people are shouting is celebration. Frank Thomas in his important work They Like to Never Quit Praising God writes: “Preaching against people, or sending someone to hell, is never a motivation for celebration. This may be emotionalism, but it is not celebration.” (95) In the celebration, we are seeking a positive end based on the grace of God found in the sermon.

Sometimes We Must Preach Against Something

Sometimes we are called to preach sermons of a more negative tone. By negative, I mean that you may be called to preach a sermon that is largely “against” something. For example, there may be an abundance of sexual immorality in your congregation that needs addressing. Here you may feel led to preach a sermon against sexual immorality. Perhaps one feels called to preach a sermon against theological error. One might need to preach a sermon against the prosperity gospel. One might also see the need to preach against something in the culture.

Normally Emphasize Positive

In any case, sometimes there is a reason to preach “against” something. When one does that, there is a great temptation to celebrate the demise of people. In contrast, we should seek to emphasize the positive. One way of doing this is to turn to a celebration of the good in the conclusion. For example, let us assume that you have 3 reasons why a particular theological perspective is erroneous. Then in the final move you might talk about the truth, and then in the celebration you could celebrate the truth.

Another approach would be to talk about the truth as a counterpoint to each of the problems. So you have 3 points. Before you go on to point two, talk about how the truth counters and is much better than the erroneous counterfeit.

While I think that the demise of evil is something to celebrate, preachers must be careful when overly celebrating the negative. I would encourage you to spend most of your celebration time on the affirmative teachings in the scripture.

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