Monday, February 16, 2009

preaching-pt. 1.

One issue I am personally working through is with the discipline of preaching. I have gone to church my whole life, attended a Christian High School, went to church camp every summer, went to a Christian college, traveled for that Christian college to more Christian camps, and now am going to seminary. In all of these places I have encountered preaching; some good, some bad, some ...ehh. The one big issue I have with preaching is that I feel it is very hit and miss. I feel like the main reason a pastor preaches a particular sermon is, "That's a great idea!", "What church season is this?", or "My people need to hear this!." This leads to scattered preaching, repetitive series, and under-developed listeners. I think we need to re-think our concept of the sermon.

Personally, I feel the big problem is too few pastors do not ask how this week's sermon connect with a sermon from last year, or one from five years ago, or my first sermon. Their preaching is not taking their listeners anywhere! It is merely a Bible teaching that stands alone, or as a part of a series that for the most part stands alone. Here are a few reasons why I think this is so:

  • Pastors, at least from my viewpoint, fail to have a plan for their sermons. Here, I'm not talking about short term planning. I'm talking about long term planning. Most pastors develop quality series. They are good at writing powerful sermons, but they seem to be continually circling the proverbial wagons. They don't seem to have a plan for where they want to be taking their people long term. 

  • Pastors, at least from my viewpoint, preach from a position of how do my people want to hear this, as opposed to what do my people want to hear. The focus seems to be on creative presentations as opposed to the actual content of what's being presented. Some of the most creative sermons I've been a part of have been the most shallow, but some of the most creative sermons I've listened to have been the most life changing! Creativity does not equal quality, they have no bearing upon each other. Strive for BOTH!

  • Pastors, at least from my viewpoint, are merely digging to find something to speak about for next week. They've been at it for so long, they struggle to find something new and profound to say. They are tired and worn out from the endless search to be creative. They feel like they had said it all - and there is nothing new under the sun - so where is my next message going to come from? At some level being creativity has burned them out.

  • Pastors, at least from my viewpoint, look up to their favorite preacher (i.e. John Maxwell, JD Walt) and attempt to think like them, communicate like they do, model their sermons with their own. I've been there. The problem is that nobody can be JD except JD. To try and be like someone else, forces one to spend countless hours asking, "How would JD say this?" or "What Would JD Do?" (they actually have wrist-bands that help "JD-ites" focus...), instead of being genuine when on stage.


In my quest, I am asking myself (in this order), 'Why preach?', 'What should we be attempting to accomplish?', 'Where does this church need to go?', 'How can I say this in a better way?', 'Who should we be?', 'When should I teach this?'

4 comments:

Matt O'Reilly said...

As far as long term planning goes, it might be good plan to preach systematically through as many books of the bible as possible, verse by verse. One might even be able to preach through the whole New Testament over the course of a life long ministry.

dan said...

I agree, I'm a big fan in preaching a particular text...i.e. preaching through the book of Matthew for the whole year, I think it's healthy, grounded, we actually get to the interpretation of a text.

With that said, I think the Church Calender is also a great way to preach. To live within the life of the ebbs and flows of the Christian season...

John David Walt said...

dude-- there's no such thing as a JD'ite. is there? ;-) jd

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