Problem to Assurance to Celebration in Preaching
Our Preaching Patterns series continues with a look at Frank Thomas’ approach. His approach takes Henry Mitchell’s insight of celebration and weds it to another structure. Instead of simply being steps or journey to celebration, Thomas makes these steps explicit. He begins with a problem that complicates the world of the congregation. These complications can come from the scripture, doctrine, or even from the life of the congregation or the world. The preacher makes sure to define this problem intellectually, emotionally, and behaviorally.
Then the preacher moves to the gospel assurance. Here the preacher interprets God’s love and how that affects the problem that was defined before. This shows how the gospel resolves the problem defined above.
Finally we enter the phase of celebration. Here the preacher celebrates the resolution of the problem by the Gospel. This celebration must be a celebration of the Gospel presented in this sermon as well as how that Gospel resolves the problem defined in this sermon.
As was noted before, this is a more particular version of Mitchell’s steps to celebration. One also might do the same thing with the dialectical method that we discussed in a previous post. You could have the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. But then end with a celebration of the synthesis. One could also take a sermon that makes points and celebrate the fact that the points are true at the end of the sermon. Also the method of preaching verse by verse, we can add a celebration to the end by making sure that the last verse touched on has something to celebrate.
In short, I think that celebration is a tool that many preachers could use to make sure that the point is driven home. However, as noted before, one must be certain that the celebration is about what was presented in the sermon, otherwise your finale will obliterate what you have put so much effort in presenting up to that point.
Frank Thomas’ approach to preaching can be found in his book They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God.