Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Preaching

1. Preaching is serious, serious business. James says that not many should be teachers (which includes preaching), since we they be judged more strictly and can lead many astray. Therefore, the air of jocularity, entertainment, and silliness is entirely inapt. Yet many preachers breath the poluted air of popular culture and model themselves after entertainers. The church needs something different and far better: truth through an earnest and well-studied personality. That doesn't exclude all humor, but it should put sober things up considerably. The presumption should be to use humor sparingly. See A.W. Tozer's classic essay, "The Use and Abuse of Humor."

2. One should read the text in question aloud many times before preaching it, since this familiarizes you with the sound of the text. Besides hard study of the text (or topic), one should meditate on the material at length. I did this recently on Acts 17:24-34 and was amazed at what I found, even though I had preached it several times in the past five years.

3. Pray over every aspect of the message: preparation, execution, and how it will be received. Ask others to pray for you. Spurgeon, the great preacher, said his secret was that "my people pray for me." Americans do not pray. They are too busy doing "important things." Thus, there is little power or holiness in the pulpits of the land.

4. Try to find as much silence as possible on the way to preaching the sermon. If driving, do not listen to the radio or music, unless it is godly worship music. The best thing for me has been to drive in silence while thinking and praying through the message.

5. Try not to be distracted if people leave during the message. You may not know why they are leaving. Moreover, the truth often offends people who cannot take it. It is not necessarily a judgment on the value of your preaching. People called the Apostle Paul a "babbler," but he did not give up (Acts 17).

6. Pray before and after the message. Mean it. Call out to God to bless the message and to edify and convict you and your congregation. Don't preach in the prayer, but beseech God according to the truth you preach.

7. It often settles people down to take a moment of silence at the beginning and/or end of the service. Sadly, some churches throw so much clutter at the congregation--skits, bad music, pointless announcements, film clips--that silence is required to enter the proper frame of mind to preach and listen to the preaching.

3 comments:

Phil Steiger said...

I could not agree more about the silent, slow, repetitive, "sacred reading" of a text I am about to preach on. I have recently changed my prep schedule to begin my encounter with a passage by doing this very thing - before I open my commentaries and study guides. It has been a breath of divine air.

Dave said...

R.C. Sproul and Al Mohler make some interesting comments about preaching here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2zvqQ1w-Os

Eysenck said...

"Sadly, some churches throw so much clutter at the congregation--skits, bad music, pointless announcements, film clips--that silence is required to enter the proper frame of mind to preach and listen to the preaching"

Why do they do that? Because they do not entirely believe in what they are saying?

What is "bad music"? Wagner?