Authenticity and Preaching

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:

  1. The preacher is an important component of all homiletic views and thus who the
    preacher is and how the preacher acts is important whether it is in terms of authority
    or discipleship.
  2. Preaching in a true-like fashion is important just as we preach truth. How important
    it is depends on your assumptions of what preaching is and where authority resides.
  3. Style does affect the reception of the message. But we must be careful not to fall into
    the trap of using style to appear authentic.
  4. The preacher’s authenticity can be a vehicle through which God speaks to the congregation.

Prophetic Preaching

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.

Kerygma and Didache

While studying for a class in Modern Homiletic Theory I came across these two important terms. The terms of interest to me now are the comparison between Kerygma and Didache in preaching. Often didache is seen as the “ethical instruction” in preaching. Kerygma’s purpose is seen as making new converts. Here we see a difference in purpose. Didache is for the converts and Kerygma is for the outsiders.

Who is Your Preaching For?

As I look at this a fundamental question arises, How much of our preaching is for the congregation and how much is for outsiders? Some churches are totally evangelistic driven and thus almost all of their preaching would be considered Didache under this understanding. Other try to balance the two, but how should you or do you balance these two ideas?

Some have attempted to clearly define what the Kerygma was in the New Testament. However I think this thought of “who the preaching is for” rather than the “content” is helpful in distinguishing the two.

So preachers, think about who you are addressing in your sermons and see how much time you are addressing those in the community and those outside the community. From your own perspective see if what you are doing is in line with your understanding of what Christian preaching is.

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