Authentic preaching is responsible for its place in the total Christian community. It belongs not only to the preacher, but also to the congregation. It reflects the memory and expectation of the people of God in times past and in times present. It is rooted in the Word and standing in the world. True preaching steps onto the bridge between the mundane and the majestic, between mud and stars, and, recognizing the awesome mystery of the preached Word, dares to speak for God.
In recent years, as more and more women are able to fulfill their calling to ministry through ordination and pastoral ministry, more and more women are preaching. What does this mean for worship and spirituality? If Christian worshipers are hearing the Word preached by women, how does this change worship? Will preaching change as more and more women do it?
Christian storytelling is rooted in the ancient Jewish tradition of telling stories. In telling the story, its reality and power are made present to the hearers, so that by entering into the story they experience its significance and power to shape their perspectives and the living out of their own stories of faith.
Storytelling is an art that needs to be developed in today’s churches. Storytellers succeed through using dialogue, developing action and plot, opening up the imagination, and learning how to tell the story well. The following entry is one pastor’s account of the transforming power of story in his own preaching. Its original title, “Spinning Yarns,” suggests the necessity of retaining the first-person perspective because the best stories are our stories—stories told from personal experience.
Preachers can prepare their sermons with respect to the needs of their people by engaging a representative group of people in conversation on Sunday’s text. Guidelines for group preparation and feedback are outlined below.
Preaching through a biblical book, also known as lectio continua (Latin, meaning to read continuously) is presented here from the Reformed perspective as a viable option to preaching through the lectionary or preaching topical sermons.
Since the time of the Protestant Scholastics, sermons have been designed according to a schema: subtilitas intelligendi, subtilitas explicandi, subtilitas applicandi—careful understanding, explication, and application. A text was exegeted, interpreted, and applied in what was often a tri-part sermon.
In the mid-eighteenth century, John Wesley and George Whitefield became famous through their revivalistic preaching. Although based on a Scripture, it differed from Reformed preaching in that it was not exegetical and did not place as much emphasis on correct grammatical, historical, and theological contexts. Instead, Wesley and Whitefield developed topics and presented applications for their listeners. Sin, grace, and reconciliation with God were their favorite themes. Wesley united this message with a zeal for sanctification. This style of preaching was directed particularly toward the poor, resulting in a tremendous movement for social and political justice.
Martin Luther, like John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Girolamo Savonarola before him, may be classified as a preacher of “prophetic personality.” For these preachers, preaching was an act of spiritual warfare. Luther’s sermons are polemics against the abuses within the Roman church and the hard-heartedness of many of its priests. Luther also began the tradition of preaching an additional pedagogical sermon. In these catechistic sermons he taught the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and doctrines of the Reformation. The tradition of featuring both catechetical and homiletical sermons in services became common in some Lutheran (and Reformed) churches, and this practice still continues in some churches today.
In the late medieval era, a renewed concern for the inner life emerged. This new kind of mysticism affected the medieval sermon. Mystic John Tauler did not completely abandon the scholastic rules for preaching, but he did alter them freely. It may be said that he practiced a devotional style of preaching.