This post is part of a multi-part blog series called Preaching Principles.
Almost a decade ago I had been asked to do a workshop at a small church conference on preaching. Not because my style of preaching or sermon content was so spectacular, but it was the planning and preparation of preaching that we had gotten a pretty good system around. I was on my way to the room where I would be doing my workshop and bumped into an older and wiser pastor I knew from my previous church. I was now in my early 40’s and he in his late 70’s. He asked where I was going and I said I was on my way to teach a session on preaching, and he said in return – I saw your name on the list and thought “I’m not going to let some young punk tell ME how to preach.” Not having time to explain the nature of the workshop I simply answered, “fair enough” and scurried along.
He’s right and I get it, the act of preaching is deeply personal to every pastor. And for many pastors, preaching is the point of deepest ego sensitivity. It’s vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there. Even more intimidating, you’re trying to properly handle and not misuse the word of God. It’s a delicate art. We don’t like anyone messing with it – even though most Sundays we feel completely inadequate to pull it off.
It’s always been curious to me that preaching is a uniquely Christian practice. Other religions have meditations that are guided by a clergy person, certainly other religions have academics who teach and lecture about the content of their religion. But only Christianity puts such an emphasis on the regular proclamation of Jesus through his word. Not just mentioning Jesus or referencing Jesus, but actually offering Jesus to all who would listen. It’s a peculiarly Christian practice, and for good reason, which is part of the purpose of this series of blog posts.
It’s with some trepidation and a lot of humility that I offer this series. Recognizing every pastor has his or her style and preferences and traditions and denominations and certainly very strong views on this subject. I wanted to first just explore some of the biblical and theological foundations for preaching and then move into some of the more practical aspects that I have found to be helpful with my team now for almost 30 years. Please know- I’m not trying to be some punk telling you how to preach! Hope it’s helpful.