After listening to a sermon, I thought about what I want in the sermon. Here are a few of the primary things that I want from a sermon. I especially want these things from a black preacher preaching a black sermon.
Please have only one main thought and supporting thoughts. As I think about some of the more difficult sermons that I have listened to I begin to realize that often the preacher jumps from thought to thought without giving adequate exposition to any of them. If there is more than one main thought give me some kind of handout so that I can remember it. If it isn’t worth remembering it probably isn’t worth hearing.
Give me at least one thing to take home. Preferably it will be the main point of the sermon, but if not I will probably only pick one thing and forget everything else. Please help me determine what I should remember to take home.
In addition, give me something that I can apply when I get home. Theory is good and necessary, but if you don’t apply it, most of us will not be able to use it. My homiletics professor said that we should make sure that the Gospel is portable.
Do not bore the people. I am coming more to the conclusion that boring the people is sin. If you can’t make the Gospel exciting you probably are doing something wrong! Please note that I am not speaking of sensationalism, but something is wrong when a reasonably connected member who has come to hear a word from the Lord is put to sleep.
Know Your Sermon. Practice your sermon. In addition don’t steal anyones sermon without giving proper credit and making the sermon your own.
Do not use illustrations only a PhD can understand. I saw one sermon where the preacher put up a CAT scan of a Brain. It didn’t clarify anything and probably caused many minds to think about something else.
If you have 300 people in the audience and you preach for half an hour that is 150 man-hours that are spent listening to the sermon. Don’t waste those 150 hours!
This post has been expanded into a free ebook that you can find information about at this link
You can see his process more fully in the book Preaching Paul.
Someone asked once how long should each step take? Well that is a hard question, it should take as long as it takes you to finish the point. But I do wish to add that you will never be totally finished in sermon preparation even after the presentation of the sermon. So you must prepare enough…what that means depends on who you are…
What is the New Homiletic and how has it affected homiletics? This book by Fred Craddock is often referred to as the book that started a big change to the homiletic horizon. As I read it today many things sound almost axiomatic due to the strong influence of the work.
If you wish to learn about the foundations of homiletics today or you have a historical interest in “the New Homiletic,” or you just wish to read a good overview of a method of preaching, I would suggest that you purchase and read the work. You can download a review of this foundational work below.
On page 3 Craddock asks for a stay of execution against the sermon. I think that his book
demonstrates that sermons can overcome the problems described in Chapter 1. This book
shows the fundamentals of induction, narrative, and other components of the new Homiletic
clearly and quickly and thus even today I would suggest that all preachers read it.
What is the role of authenticity in preaching? Should it equate to authority? Why or Why not? Here are 4 things preachers should keep in mind when discussing the term authenticity:
What is prophetic preaching? Zach Mills, one of my collegues in the Modern Homiletics Theory course, summarized prophetic preaching as:
[P]reaching that creatively speaks-on behalf of others-of the injustices and inadequacies of the present and the hopeful possibilities of the future.
We often speak of prophetic preaching as primarily speaking truth to power and the powerful. Often we do not recognize the times to speak truth to those who wield power in our own sphere of influence. Dr. Brad Braxton, in a lecture at the Kelly Miller Smith Institute, stated that the prophetic witness cuts both ways. What we speak to power we must speak to ourselves. The lack of equality for women in the Black Church demonstrates that while we may speak of inequality in others we must in addition speak it to ourselves when it is needed.
To add to this important point, I also think that another thing that Mills brought out is very important. The idea that we should not totally divorce prophetic and pastoral preaching. Prophetic preaching definitely plays some pastoral roles. Going back to Mills’ definition, to speak for the oppressed and articulate their concerns gives voice to them and serves a pastoral function. In addition to provide a vision of a better day is pastoral.
I think that the difference between the two is one of emphasis and not totally separation. Prophetic preaching is something that all preachers must do on occasion. Some of us relish that job and others shy away from it, but if we are to be true preachers of the Gospel we must provide a vision of a better world and confront the powers in this world that would stand in the way of that vision.
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