Thursday, February 7, 2008

Preaching: Losing Taste for the Real Thing

An insightful post from Caleb Kolstad:
The syrup I have grown accustomed to is imitation “light” syrup. As a matter of fact I really don’t enjoy “regular” syrup anymore. It is too sweet for my liking. I would even choose light syrup over tree-tapped genuine Vermont maple syrup.

Sadly, I realized that many people are wired the same way when it comes to preaching. Many Christians have become so accustomed to shallow evangelical principalizing that when real expository preaching is tasted it’s rejected (at least initially) . . .

The problem is that many people want so many illustrations, stories, or application points that no time is left for true exposition. Who wants to hear about the historical background of Romans when in that time 3 or 4 stories, illustrations, or jokes could be shared? Now most people wouldn’t say that aloud but that is in fact what they’re thinking.

Those who most gifted in oratory are often most prone to this extreme. It’s what I call shallow evangelical principalizing. I noticed this response over 10 years when I was a student at the Master’s College. During a school sponsored Bible conference three gifted men brought the Word. All were great communicators but one was especially humorous and “relatable”. Unfortunately his sermons were also the lightest of the three. His preaching was thoroughly evangelical but not truly expositional or deep. Still most of the students I talked with in the dorms during and after the conference thought his sermons were the “best.”

Engaging oratory and great communication is not synonymous with a great sermon. In our preaching we should seek both light and heat. I’m not calling for dry, lifeless, preaching here. Passionate, clear, text-driven preaching is what our people most desperately need. Just don’t be surprised if you bring that type of syrup to your people if they initially reject it in favor of the “light” stuff.

I listened to a sermon this month that began with a 10-minute illustration, transitioned to 2 minutes of connecting the illustration to "spiritual truth," and then transitioned to another 5-minute personal story. Yes, I was timing. 17 minutes before any Scripture was referenced or cited, much less explicated. It was a 30 minute message, and the remaining 13 minutes included more illustrations.

I was bored.

But I'm a nerd, I admit. I'm also thirsty for Jesus and hungry for the manna of Scripture, and I've been starving lately. Light beer isn't cutting it. I want a straight shot of homiletical whiskey. :-)

(HT: Transforming Sermons)

1 comment:

jagis said...

I am so starving it is scarry. God is calling us to His word. It is a powerful, magnatic call.