When Celebration Goes Bad

One of the problems that often rears it’s head in African American worship is when celebration is abused. Martha Simmons referred to this dynamic among some whoopers as the “dark side of Whooping.” This is when the power of whooping is used to mask a preacher who has not done his or her work to provide a solid presentation.

Sadly, Whoopers are not the only ones who are guilty of this problem. There are many African American preachers who routinely use celebration to trick the people into believing that they are great preachers while the people go away empty. They are happy and shouting and talk about how great the preacher preached, but they often can’t even tell you what the sermon was about, let alone apply it to their daily lives.

This discussion has caused me to think of the primary cardinal sin of false celebration. If you commit this one, you will make it very difficult for the people to experience true celebration of the Gospel as presented in your sermon.

Unrelated Celebration

The first cardinal sin is the unrelated celebration. This is perhaps the most common one. The preacher senses that the people are not on board with the message, or perhaps the message was simply sub-par due to the preacher’s lack of preparation. Whatever the case, the unrelated celebration will obliterate the sermon’s point form the minds of your hearers. It will be gone. They will not even be able to recall it. Celebration is just too powerful to be used to prop up a poor sermon.

Sometimes a preacher will preach a powerful sermon and remove it from the people by celebrating something that is tangential to the main point. This is better than the previous preacher who preached a poor sermon, but it is still very problematic for the people will leave only thinking of that celebration. They may say: “He sure can whoop,” but they won’t know how to deal with issues in real life that your sermon was to address.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Planning, Preaching, Whooping
5 comments on “When Celebration Goes Bad
  1. Anonymous says:

    this article is very important for every preacher to read. it spells out the importance of preparing a good sermon with information to handle issues of today. sometimes we preacher start celebrating and really have not given the people anything, this sad. no wonder preacher some times hear from their parishner “I’m Not being fed” or “I’m not growing”
    Thank you for this article

  2. rev. Tony says:

    I believe your information to be well founded and on track, in fact a sobering truth. I also am witnessing a generation of people to whom feel good is perceived as preach good. It appears that the sad truth is that only after you are turning the key to the door of your own church, can you risk telling the truth. The truth is uncomfortable, unsettling but yet always the truth. Preachers today have become increasingly aware that making them feel good often is what brings them there. The right shake, the right song and dance and presto, you are a great preacher! Many churches put up with men not walking the walk, because they can talk the talk so well. Integrity and fear of God should compel the man of God to prepare, pray and deliver the truth. Now if those criteria are met and celebration comes, amen!

  3. Supreme says:

    I have heard soo many preachers that whoop and i would think to myself that they are not saying anything at all. I would love to get up there and whoop but i feel like the whoop should come when the holy spirit hits you and over whelms you to the point where you are actually excited and cannot contain it so it comes out as whooping . I litterally heard someone get up and start preaching and use the most common cliche’s ever i like when a preacher uses text i have not heard or comes with a common text that has a deeper insight on it that i hadn’t seen for myself

  4. April owens says:

    I have been to churches where they whoopped, ran screamed and walked the pews and did not say anything that had any meaning at all. There was nothing to help the congregation grow at all and I see it more and more. I dont want to be entertained by the sermon, I want to learn what I need to do to grow in Christ and what I need to change in my everyday life. Celebration is good but we need the word as well.

  5. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Hello Pastor,

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with whooping. I have a problem with “whooping about nothing” or whooping with no reference or relation to a substantive point that has already been presented. In short whooping can help people emotionally experience the truth of the point you have presented, or it can get people excited about nothing.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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