Great preaching involves not merely inspiration, but the preaching of transformative sermons. We do not desire to make people who merely know more of the Bible, although that is important and should be emphasized. We definitely do not desire simply to make people shout, although that may be the unavoidable conclusion of our powerful preaching. No, we seek transformation through sermons that call for transformation.
Preacher, Not Orator or Lecturer
We preachers do not simply perform our written orations with great oratorical skill. We all have heard preachers with all the skills of great orators, but something is missing. The people shout, but there is something missing. The people are happy and sometimes feel as though this is an important component of the African American tradition. They love to hear the preacher, and they may even understand the moment as merely something to enjoy as folk art. The worship service is nothing more than a show for this individual hearer, and the hearer may not be changed. No, we need transformative sermons.
Then there are the Bible lecturers who leave the people with a book full of notes. The people may know great things about Israel. They may know esoteric facts about Melchizedek and Revelation’s prophecies. However, great preaching is not merely about knowing more facts. It is about turning the page and becoming a transformed follower of the almighty power of God.
Holy Ghost Needed in Transformative Sermons
But here is the key: There are those preachers who may not have the eloquence of some of the “princes of the pulpit.” They may not have all the theological and biblical knowledge of some of those who turn the pulpit into a classroom, but they know something about the Most High God. They know something about the Spirit. They can sing with the slaves, “I know I’ve been changed, angels in heaven done changed my name.”
How do they do this? There are two things I want to emphasize here. First, I want to emphasize the importance of a vital and growing connection to God through the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost. The preacher needs to know the Holy Ghost and needs to be connected to the third person of the Godhead. Don’t fall into the trap of attempting to preach in your own power. People may shout, or maybe they will be informed, or maybe both, but will they be changed by a transformative sermon?
The Preacher Must be Changed by His Transformative Sermon
To ensure transformational preaching, the preacher must have a message that calls the preacher first of all to be changed. Stop preaching only about how someone else needs to get better … have you ever preached in such a way that you have been convicted of your own sins and shortcomings? If not, you might see that your people have no conviction either. so first we need a vital connection to the Spirit. Next, we need messages that touch our own hearts before we preach them.
Contemporary God in Transformative Sermons
Finally, if we are seeking to preach transformative sermons, we need to make a scary and error-prone move. We must have the audacity to move from what God did (in the past tense) to what God is doing. Yes, we might say the wrong thing, but much preaching never says what God is doing today. If you want to preach a transformative sermon, you must first of all understand what the text said and what God did, but move from there to having the audacity to say what God is doing today, in your context, in your congregation.
There is a piety that leaves God in the book but does not allow God into the present. Does God today work with the weak and the hurting? Does God today help us overcome the sins that bind us? Does God today attack structures of inequality and evil? Does God today stand with the hungry? That is the move that we must make if we are to preach transformative sermons.
So let us seek that connection to the Holy Ghost. Let us preach messages that call for transformation and change in us as well as our people. And finally, let us have the audacity to name God and God’s work in our present circumstances. Then we will be preaching not as a “bible lecturer” or as an “orator,” but as a “prophet.” As a prophet, we will preach transformative sermons!