Something to Say or Say Anything

Lowell Erdahl, in the book Best Advice for Preaching, quotes someone who said: “There are two kinds of preachers–those who have to say something and those who have something to say!” A preacher gains something to say by connection to the divine through the spiritual disciplines including prayer and study. Having something to say comes from an in-depth look at the scripture. Having something to say also comes from looking deeply at life as well as the congregation’s life. Having something to say comes from time and in-depth work.

However, some preachers simply “must say something.” These preachers take extreme shortcuts. They copy a sermon off of the internet because it is not important what they say, but that they have something to say. They simply look for something to “shout the church.” They grab the latest edition of a sermon magazine and preach a sermon verbatim. They have not done the work that is necessary to have something to say. Too often preachers who must say something will whoop or yell or use some other aspect of African American preaching style to hide the fact that they don’t have anything to say. Sometimes the people are shouting so loud they don’t realize that the preacher has nothing to say.

The great blessing is that any preacher who God has called can have “something to say” rather than just one who “must say something.” It is time to get back on that devotional program of Bible study and prayer. It is time to start looking at the scripture exegetically. And perhaps the hardest thing, if you don’t have something to say, make use of those others who do have something to say. Do not give the people just anything because you don’t have something to say. This weekend, find out what God wants you to say and then Preach it Preacher!

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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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