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Preaching Must Be Better – Writing Syllabi

October 25, 2010

We are currently (Oct.-Dec., 2010) in LA. Lord willing, we head back to South Africa on Dec. 27, 2010.

While here, I am feverishly writing syllabi for my classes and am today working on one for a preaching class.  I thought you might like what I say on the first page of the syllabus, here it is;

There is both an art and a science to preaching.

The art of preaching consists of: being taught, lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit , having wise understanding of people and the world, and personal oratory ability.

Preaching is at least as much art (probably more) as science.  This class is not primarily about art. This class is primarily about the science, the technical aspects, of studying for and putting together a sermon.

Well crafted art, that is, a well crafted, well delivered and empowered sermon, is enjoyed by everyone.  The people who hear it enjoy clever and emotional words and ideas that resonate deeply.  They enjoy humor and beautiful word pictures.  The preacher enjoys having his jokes laughed at and having his profound statements thought about and agreed with.  And, both preacher and people enjoy the personal connection which comes through the mind, emotions, actions and spiritual bond of a sermon that attains to high art.  Good art is enjoyable and helps the people understand and accept the content of a sermon.

For the art of preaching – there is no process.  The art of a sermon depends on the work of God and your giftedness.

To attain to high art in preaching: seek God in prayer, get wise council and and practice, practice, practice.

Everyone, including the preacher, wants the art of a sermon to be very good.  But, not everyone wants nor appreciates the science of a sermon, including many so-called preachers.

The science of a sermon consists of: the precise and correct interpretation of the Bible, making fine distinctions between truth and error, exactness in application and connection to life and the human condition and a sermon structure that is clear, biblically based and easy to follow.

The science of a sermon often alienates people, accentuates differences in beliefs and makes people uncomfortable.  This is why much preaching is more about shock and awe rather than the truth of God’s word.  And, many pastors either don’t like to study and grapple with difficult passages and theological problems, or they are lazy.  These talkers hide their lack of content behind good communication skills.

On the other hand, many who are proficient at the science of a sermon may be biblically, theologically and exegetically correct, but they couldn’t preach their way out of a paper bag.  They are excruciatingly exegetical and bore the church into apathy and indifference.  I dare to say that this is not a lesser evil than just being a conversationalist.

And, I might as well affront the people in pews while I am at it.  In general, people like the content of a sermon to be narrow enough to be biblical, but broad enough so no one gets offended.  Many people do not want to be convicted by the Holy Spirit at church.  They would rather feel good.  But, in the end, it is the preacher who fails if the sermon falls short of true art and science.

Art is best when it flows from science.  Form follows function.  Knowledge and understanding is the soil that beautiful art grows from.  Saying something well is an art, but you first must have something to say.  Shallow words said beautifully are still shallow.

When a preacher has thoroughly studied and prepared his sermon he will be much freer and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in his delivery of God’s word.  The more you study, the better your sermon delivery can be.  This is not well understood by most preachers.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. basil bailey permalink
    January 20, 2015 10:14 am

    Can’t realy make a comment yet cause I’m totaly new and would like learn more about preaching.

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