Preaching Articles

False piety might lead some preachers to think preparation for the preaching moment shouldn't require the preacher put in some real work. Does the preacher receive a message from God without putting forth any work whatsoever?

For example, there are those who make an argument that sounds a lot like this one:

If you are called, then you don’t need a website to teach you to preach!

The first thing that comes to mind when addressing such a statement is, why did the commenter come to this website if he/she thinks that called people don’t need any training to help them in their call? But on a more serious note, this argument taken to its logical conclusion would mean that we should shut down all bible schools, seminaries and universities. When God calls you, according to this understanding, you don’t need to do any more work

But let’s be clear, becoming a better preacher requires work. I think formal training can be helpful, but even if you do not receive formal training from an educational institution, you need to avail yourself of books, websites, practice and even peer review. All of these things, in addition to prayer, Bible study and your call, will help you to become a better preacher. Simply leaning on the idea that you have been called without doing any more work will stifle your improvement.

Another belief that hinders our improvement as preachers is an argument that goes like this:

The sermon is solely a product of God who gives it to us; we just deliver what God has given to us!

This is related to the first argument. But while the first one attacks the idea that we should have any formal or informal training in preaching, this one attacks the very idea of sermon preparation itself. It assumes that the sermon is something that God gives to us irrespective of our effort or person.

This idea doesn’t take into account that God has called you to preach. God didn’t call a robot without any history or emotions. What that means is that there is something about our background, who we are, the questions we bring, the issues we have dealt with, that God will use in the construction of sermons. Sermons are not something that any of us could have delivered. Who we are affects how we construct and present sermons. This is one reason why stealing sermons is so detrimental. It teaches us to not use our background.

Sermons are not delivered irrespective of the preacher, they are something delivered through us. So when Pastor Joe just lost his mother and goes to the text, he sees something that is needed just now for himself and for someone else who is going through loss. I am not talking about reading into the text; I am talking about aspects of the text that you would not have seen were it not for the questions that you bring to the text.

It is sometimes said that preaching is “truth through personality.” God has called you and thus we labor. We labor to become more effective preachers of the truth. We labor to be faithful presenters of the gospel. We labor. And then when we fail, we hold on to the promise God gave that the word itself when it goes forth will not come back void. Isaiah 55:11.

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Chuck Patrick

commented on Apr 2, 2013

Excellent insight, thank you.

Hugo Fries

commented on Apr 2, 2013

Good points! We see evidence of personality in sermons all through scripture - it helps engage the listener. His or her sense of humour and life experience can be great tools in effective communication, ie Jesus' sermon on the mount.

David Buffaloe

commented on Apr 2, 2013

Wonderful points! We as pastors should make sure we are right with God before trying to proclaim the King to others.

Joseph William Rhoads

commented on Apr 2, 2013

Very good. I would further argue that the two points that you brought up are not just wrong, they are theologically dangerous. If a sermon is solely the product of God who gives it, then if follows that whatever the preachers says in the pulpit has to be without error. My theology is sound, and I preach what the Bible says, but I cannot say that I've never said anything wrong in a sermon. In addition to claim that you don't need a website (teacher, seminary, training, etc) to teach you to preach means that from the very first moment God called you to preach, you were perfect in your ability to communicate His Word. That's the height of arrogance!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Apr 2, 2013

So sad to see just how many people ignore the clear teaching of God's Word as it pertains to women "preachers." What a sad day we live in when political correctness trumps biblical correctness.

James Zimmerman

commented on Apr 2, 2013

"Dennis Cocks says... So sad to see just how many people ignore the clear teaching of God's Word as it pertains to women "preachers." And some don't circumcise after the manner of Moses either.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Apr 2, 2013

@James, I really think you need to study your Bible before you comment. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about when you make such a statement!

James Zimmerman

commented on Apr 3, 2013

I apologize, Dennis; my comment was not particularly helpful. I was just a bit put off by your frankly rather judgmental statement that people who disagree with you are "ignoring the clear teaching of God's Word." The fact is that there are some Christians who are just as committed to God's Word as you who interpret it differently in this regard. I don't expect you to change your own convictions, but it would be nice if you could at least grant that a brother or sister in Christ might interpret scripture differently and still be committed to God's Word. It's hardly a matter of "political correctness."

Dennis Cocks

commented on Apr 3, 2013

@James, let me ask you this, how is 1 Timothy 2:12-14, 3:1-5 to be interpreted? I have asked this question many times to those who advocate women preachers or pastors. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer because there is no other way to interpret those verses than what they actually say. Go ahead and try. I have said this before and I will say it again, does 1 Timothy 2:12-3:5 belong in the Bible or not? Can we pick and choose what we want to believe the Bible says based on the day we live in? God gave the leadership in the home and church to the male. It doesn't mean we are better or smarter, that is just what God chose to do. If Jesus had choosen 6 men and 6 women as His disciples, we wouldn't be having this conversation, but He didn't, all of them were male.

Rev Friday Okonkwo

commented on Apr 9, 2013

Quite interesting topic; definitely, what you are is part of what makes God's message relevant or thrive in your hands. You cannot separate the two or deny the fact of it.

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