Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Truth #4

Truth #4 - YOU preach the TEXT to your PEOPLE.

There are three elements that go into good preaching. The first of these is a good understanding of the text. If you don't understand the text, if your sermon doesn't deal with the text, it's worthless. We know this, we focus our studies as Lutherans on the text - that makes sense.

There are two other elements of preaching that we tend not to focus on as much. The first of these is our people. We are not preaching in a vaccuum - we are called not to be generic preachers, but called to a specific congregation with specific people. As such, our thoughts in our sermons have to be tailored to the people of our congregation. God's Word is rich - there are many different ways to go with any text. The question a preacher must ask is "what does my congregation need to hear from this text right now?" This is why the same text may be preached to a congregation year in and year out - they are different and have different needs - not felt needs, but true spiritual needs. This makes your preaching sharp.

The other, and least talked about aspect of preaching is the fact that YOU are the one who is preaching. I love the way Peter Cage preaches. I'm not Cage. I love the way David Petersen preaches - but I'm not Petersen. More over - if I try to sound like Cage or Petersen my sermon will sound phoney - as though it's not from me. God calls YOU into the office to use YOU to preach His Word. Therefore, your sermon should sound like. . . You. This isn't self-aggrandizement, this isn't a pastor-cult thing. This is actually fulfilling the office which you were entrusted with. Use words that you would normally use - don't try to put on airs. Be what you are - a pastor who speaks God's Word to the sheep whom God has entrusted to his care.

Holding to the text makes for a good, solid sermon. Preaching to your people makes the sermon sharper - makes it hit home. Being yourself in the pulpit makes it easier to listen to. It's easier to shut out a generic sermon - preach to your people, and be yourself when you preach.

1 comment:

William Weedon said...

Very good thoughts. If I might add one more: one of the most effective ways to preach to the people is to make sure you are preaching to yourself. Nothing comes across so poorly as law that has not struck YOU down; or Gospel that is not rejoicing YOUR heart. FWIW.

I'm really enjoying your mini series here.