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.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

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.

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