Preaching… For A Lifetime
“Preaching, in order to be fresh and vital, takes hard work. The work can be quite agonizing at times. In fact, the longer you are in the ministry the more discipline and determination is needed to accomplish the work.” Bruce Mawhinney in Preaching with Freshness
“As time goes by a certain smoothness comes with the experience of the years. That smoothness has a more professional sound to it, but it may also bring with it a certain dullness.” Bruce Mawhinney in Preaching with Freshness
Challenges to Preaching Effectively over the Long-Haul • The New Consumerism “Without altars, we talk less and less about eternity and more and more about the here and now.” Calvin Miller, Marketplace Preaching
Challenges to Preaching Effectively over the Long-Haul • Christianity as a subculture Church has become an addendum to American culture. Disassociation with the market-place centers preaching on “insiders.” “Separation from the world” is double-edged.
Challenges to Preaching Effectively over the Long-Haul • Loss of appreciation for Divine Drama “A sermon that loses its godly summons is at best a current event and at worst a morality monologue.” Calvin Miller, Market Place Preaching
A Church….Overly Influenced by the SecularandA World….Hungering for theTranscendent • Church “life” takes its cues from the self-centered “spirit of entertainment.” • We trade the demands of Christ for a larger crowd.
Altars are the meeting places between God and humanity where the transcendence of God transforms and “abundantly pardons and saves to the uttermost.”
Christian Subculture Influence of seculars—reality of a continuing hunger for the transcendent Loss of Divine Drama New Consumerism Summary
Interventions The message and the messenger are inextricably linked • The why and who of preaching are prior to the how of preaching • “ How do I become a living memory of God; how do I accept and connect; how do I lift up the individual story into divine history?” Henri J. M.Nouwen
“The strategy of the principalities and powers is to disconnect us, to cut us off from the memory of God. It is not hard to see how many of our busy actions and restless concerns seem to be disconnected, reminding us of nothing more than the disorder of our own orientation and commitment.
When we no longer walk in the presence of the Lord, we cannot be living reminders of his divine presence in our lives. We then quickly become strangers in an alien land who have forgotten where we come from and where we are going.
Then we are no longer the way to the experience of God, but rather in the way of the experience of God. Then, instead of walking in God’s presence we start walking in a vicious circle, and pulling others into it.” Henri J.M. Nouwen in The Living Reminder
Acknowledge that life is passing you by • Life passages are doorways to greater insight • Starters for preaching come from a variety of sources, but…
USA Today Current Events Chance Encounters BIBLE Daily Bible Reading Listening All starting points must be connecting to the authoritative reference point
Read widely The six-fold path Novels Historical Biography Diary/journal Poetry Hot interest
Gathering Background Information and Illustrations • Regularly gather/file/review Newspapers, periodicals, web news • Use the experts in your congregations
Practice Self-Evaluation • Observe audio and video tapes of yourself • Critique voice--timing--personality • Find a supportive critic
Study the Sermons of Great Preachers • Classics • Alexander MacClaren • Charles Spurgeon • 20 Centuries of Great Preaching • Contemporary Books • Preaching to a Post Modern World by Graham Johnston, Baker Books • The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative by Steve Mathewson, Baker Books
Limit your usage of preaching web-sites • Preaching.com • PreachingToday.com • Sermoncentral.com • Crosswalk.com • ChristianityToday.com
The Challenge of An Audience Dear Speaker: I hear a lot of people like you. I don’t mean to be impertinent, but give me one good reason why I should listen: Are you about to say something that I would find useful? Are you willing to promise me that if I do listen, I will hear something of consequence? Exactly what kind of promise would I like you to make? Promise me that after I have listened, I will upgrade my bogus values, jettison my impure motives, and commit myself to somethingglorious and dangerous and heady and wonderful. Promise me that all the time I sit listening and you stand taling that I will see things I was unwilling to face before you preached. Help me see my sin, or God’s glory, or Jesus’ power. Promise me that I, who am riddled with inferiority, will at last believe in myself. I have always been afraid of heights. Challenge me with Everest. Promise me that after your words, I will be able to scale those icy walls and with God’s help plant his mighty flag on the summit of all my doubts. Promise me that I at last will know who I am and what I was born to achieve. Promise all this and you shall have first my ear. . .and then my soul. -Your Audience
Preaching: Voices from the Past & Present The Reformers “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.” Martin Luther “God deigns to consecrate to himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that His voice may resound in them.” John Calvin
18th Century Preachers • I live by preaching. John Wesley • If I had come to you in my own name, you might rest your elbows upon your knees and your heads on your hands and go to sleep! But I have come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts – I must and I will be heard. George Whitfield • The great design & intention of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men and to attract the souls of men into a state of everlasting friendship with him. Cotton Mather
Current Voices “The church’s proclamation of him who is the Word of God is very real human speech and yet no less very divine speech, because it articulates one who is in the language of the Nicene Creed “very God and very man.” James Daane Preaching with Confidence
We can no longer assume our preaching takes place within a more or less “Christian” culture. The great narratives of Judeo-Christian belief, the pivotal stories of the Bible’s characters, the events of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ either are not known or do not carry the meaning-making significance they did for previous generations Biblical knowledge, Christian doctrine and theological reflection must be presented and re-presented from America’s pulpit-yes even American Christians. Craig Loscalzo Apologetic Preaching
Pentecostal preaching is preaching the Word of God. It is not preaching about the Word. It should be simple preaching. By that I mean preaching that can be understood. Guy Duffield Pentecostal Preaching
Preaching for Response:Historical Considerations • Theological assumptions & historical realities impact sermon construction/delivery and expected response. • The Reformation was a reaction to human effort at religiosity. The expected response to preaching became a conceptual response altering a belief system. • Luther, Zwingli, Calvin would not be the best preachers to model in giving altar calls.
Charles Finney exemplified a reaction to the “old school”. Left brained religion wasn’t enough for Finney. Finney’s preaching for response exemplified: • His own encounter with God • His belief that the affections must be addressed specifically • A verdict for Christ was necessary. • Invitations to an “anxious bench” were standard. Moody, Sunday and Graham perfect Finney’s “new school” efforts.
Preaching for Response • Shaped by theological assumptions • Influenced by historical realities • Response must not be taken for granted • Biblical precedent exists (Mt. 11:28; Luke 13:1-3; Acts 2:40; II Cor. 5:20)
Preaching for Response in the 21th Century • Religious teaching or values minimally impact people’s moral choices • Only 22% of Americans believe moral absolutes exist • Compared to teens throughout the past 20 years, today’s teenagers have the lowest likelihood of attending church when living independent of their parents. www.barna.org
Communication Realities that mitigate against preaching for response • The central section of a sermon is least likely to be remembered • Listeners usually “round off” a sermon to a general idea • People tend to interpret messages on the basis of past experiences • Listeners tend to select material based on how interesting it is to them • Most listeners find it difficult to separate essential from non-essential in a message • A speaker’s delivery and person can be more influential than the content of the message.
Preaching for response – the bottom line • Start before you begin • Begin with the end in mind • End with clarity
Start before you begin • Specificity increases clarity – in one sentence –what is this sermon about? What do hearers need to know to act on this message? • There is a reward for the hard work of forgiveness • What do I want them to do? • What about your dad, who left you and your mom when you were 8? • Are you ready to forgive him? • What do I want them to become? • If Rick, the plumber, were to take this message to heart, what would the changes look like?
How does this sermon fit in the larger vision? • Preaching to reinforce a direction of a mission-minded church • Answer skeptics question • So what? Text must be linked to context • Oh really? Save yourself from trite preaching
Ask yourself • Do I believe this message will make a difference? • Has this biblical truth made a difference in my life this week? • “If the preacher is not first preaching to himself, better that he falls on the steps of the pulpit and breaks his neck than preaches that sermon” – John Calvin • Will I use the material of others appropriately? Ed Rowell – preaching today.com
Begin with the end in mind Consider your audience. • Narrative is powerful • Entertainment is expected • Technology is omnipresent • Connection rather than education is valued
Consider your support system What about notes? • Comfort yields confidence • Confidence yields clarity • Clarity yields effective communication
Consider your physical presentation • Dress • Technology • Vocal usage • Modulate toward your personal style of communication
Consider your attitude • Don’t make your pulpit a “bully pulpit” • Make sure people know you care • Humility trumps personal satisfaction • Do you expect God to show up? Kenton Anderson – www.preaching.org
End with clarity • Response times depend on clear content, clear language, clear directions • Lack of clarity at this point in the service creates confusion • Clear content assumes a simple pattern • Billy Graham’s four points are: • Admit you’re a sinner. • Christ’s provision on Calvary can cover your sin. • You must repent of your sin • Will you receive Christ’s forgiveness?
Clear language • Avoid jargon • Use words carefully to explain what you are asking people to respond to
Clear directions • People need to know what you want them to do. • People need to know why they are being asked to respond. • People need to know when to respond and what to expect. Greg Laurie (Leadership, Spring 1995)
Preachers who preach for response faithfully can have faith in the God who calls people to repentance and obedience. • Preaching for response is biblically rooted – can be hindered by lack of preparation – but never be thwarted because it relies on the Spirit’s empowerment. • Preaching for response is a Pentecostal preacher’s responsibility because Pentecostal preaching bears witness to the resurrecting power of God which breaks into every aspect of God’s created order. (James Forbes) The Holy Spirit and the Preacher
“A study of hermeneutics helps… Do not be afraid of it because of its unfamiliar name. This is the science of interpretation. Because of ignorance here, some have made foolish interpretations.” Ernest S. Williams--1941
Exegesis and Hermeneutics • Exegesis focuses on what was said in the original biblical text and what it would have meant at that time. • Hermeneutics moves from the original meaning to the reader and/or the preacher in a contemporary setting.
Arenas of Hermeneutical Activity • Linguistic • Translators movement from biblical language to local language • Historical setting • Cultural-geographical-historical awareness • Teaching of the passage • Intent of the writer • Historicity of passage • Assumptions about nature of historical events—miracles are crucial
Arenas of Hermeneutical Activity • Literary Setting of Passage • Meaning based on relationship of words • Canonical Context • How the particular text being studied relates to Scripture as a whole • History of Interpretation • We aren’t the first to study this biblical text. • Present Significance of the Text • So what?
Interpretive Assumptions for Biblical Hermeneutics • Faithful interpretive efforts require a person to be inhabited by the Spirit of God. • I Corinthians 2:11 • Essence of God’s revelations points to the necessity of repentance to and obedience to the Gospel. • I John 2:26-27
Interpretive Assumptions • One part of Scripture need not undermine another part of Scripture so as to undermine the Gospel. • II Peter 1:20-21 • The Bible “reads” us and is heard by those with a desire to listen and obey. • Psalm 119:105