Christ for Us

On October 31, 1517, a monk teaching at the relatively new university of Wittenberg posted a set of theological arguments on the door of the castle church in order to invite an academic debate. This was not terribly out of the ordinary and nine times out of ten – actually, make that 9999...

What Do We Want from the Sermon Jan27

What Do We Want from the Sermon

I’ll start with a confession: for the better part of the last five years I’ve been losing confidence in preaching. This isn’t a commentary on the preaching I’ve been hearing, I should be clear, as I’ve been quite fortunate to worship in several congregations with engaging preachers. Rather, it’s preaching in general in which I’ve lost confidence, my own preaching included. Why? Two main reasons. First, as I look around at the culture, the form and shape of our preaching seems increasingly out of touch. In a culture that is increasingly participatory, our preaching is still primarily a monologue. In a culture passionate about...

What Do You Want From a Sermon? Jan13

What Do You Want From a Sermon?

I am working with some pastors in NW Iowa on preaching. They are largely from the Reformed tradition — Christian Reformed Church, The Reformed Church in America, and their various Reformed cousins — and have been meeting together for a couple of years with the help of a Lilly Endowment grant to support preachers administered by Calving Seminary‘s Center for Excellence in Preaching. Apparently they stumbled upon my book, Preaching at the Crossroads: How the World-and Our Preaching-Is Changing (cool)…and liked it (very cool)…enough to invite me to conversation (beyond cool! 🙂 ). We haven’t just talked...

Do We Deliver or Share Our Sermons? Sep18

Do We Deliver or Share Our Sermons?

I’ve noticed in recent years an interesting and subtle change in the way many preachers talk about their sermons. Traditionally, we preachers would talk about “delivering a sermon,” which led in turn to a whole area of focus for preachers on “sermon delivery.” More recently, I hear preachers talking about “sharing” their sermons or, just as frequently and another recent change, sharing their “messages.” I think there are several possible reasons for this shift. One may be the cultural influence of evangelical and emergent preachers where “message” has often been preferred to “sermon” from the desire to find...

We Go To Church To Be Changed May01

We Go To Church To Be Changed

The artist, the educator and the therapist walk different paths in different ways, but those paths meet at an intersection where the street sign says: You must change your life.For we do not go to the artist, the educator or the therapist to remain the same; we go to them to be given the vision and the tools to go on, and to go on is always to change. ~Michael Ventura, “Teacher as Healer” I think Michael Ventura’s words could be applied to preachers as well, but I wonder if preachers sometimes forget. Preachers may worry, that is, not simply about what expectations people bring to their sermons, but in this age of declining...