Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This week has been one of the most challenging weeks thus far in my PhD program—not in terms of busywork necessarily but in terms of really thinking through the issues. I'm taking a course now on Advanced Bible Teaching Methods (some of you are saying ... "finally!"). Nevertheless, I have been confronted with this issue: should we incorporate dialogue into our Sunday morning preaching? In other words, is there a place for "conversation"? In Sunday morning services?

I preached today in my class and one of the first comments from my professor was this question: "how come you didn't interact with us verbally?" Up to this course, I have been quite convinced that the sermon is a heralding forth of divine truth from the preacher to the hearer. And, frankly, I'm still firmly committed to this truth. Yet, I have been confronted with differing opinions suggesting that we should engage people by interacting with them in our sermons (not that it HAS to be done this way, but it certainly is, perhaps, more effective)... or is it?

I did some research tonight and here are some helpful quotes on preaching:

There is an heraldic element in preaching. The Bible sometimes envisages other forms of oral communication, of course: we may be invited to reason together with the Lord (Isa 1:18), for instance, or enter into a dialogical confrontation with Him (e.g., Mal 1:2-8; Rom 6:1-2). Yet in the oft-repeated “Thus says the LORD” of the oT, or in the proclamation so common to the NT, there is an unavoidable heraldic element—an announcement, a sovereign disclosure, a nonnegotiable declaration (DA Carson).


Expository preaching is: “the only form of authentic Christian preaching." The heart and soul of expository preaching … is reading the Word of God and then explaining it to the people so that they understand it. [And,] If you do believe that God speaks though His Word, then why would you substitute anything else in place of the expository preaching of the Bible? What is more important for your people than to hear from God, and how else is that going to happen unless you, like Ezra, open the book, read it, and explain it to them (Albert Mohler).

And finally,

Without the Word, no sermon. If what the minister proclaims are human insights, however perceptive—mere human words even though they are pearls of wisdom—what is happening is not what the Bible regards as preaching. In the strict sense of the term, authentic preaching is expository preaching ... “exposition means a “setting forth.” In expository preaching the sermon “sets forth” or “exhibits” the truth of the selected biblical text. Such preaching represents the assertions of the text in the form of a sermon. The sermon must say what the text says" (James Daane).

In light of this, I went to the library and checked out Doug Pagitt's most recent work on preaching: Preaching Re-Imagined: The Role of the Sermon in Communities of Faith. I'm going to read this and see how this relates to my class and my own thinking.

I know my responsibility is to preach God's Word faithfully and accurately from the Word of God to the hearers in the pew. But is there a way that I can engage them even more during a Sunday morning sermon? That's the fundamental question I'm after...


Anonymous said...


I commend your honest transparency as you think through these fundamental (yet profound) questions. I will pray that the Lord would continue to guide you as you seek the answer to your question.

I love you and I am so proud of you!

-Your Wifey

Doug Pagitt said...

Sweetie (just keeping the tone of the comments),
I am sure this will be a good ride for you. Enjoy the book. And feel free to interact if if moves you in some way.

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