Most evangelicals would, I suppose, think that ‘proper’ preaching consists of a prepared speech, delivered without interruption to a group a silent listeners. The use of dialogue would be thought to ‘water down’ the content and authority of the message, by allowing what was being said to be questioned or even doubted.
But these assumptions should themselves be questioned, writes Ian Paul (here and here).
Consider the biblical evidence. Ian Paul quotes Jeremy Thomson:
Much of Jesus’ teaching was given ‘on the way’ and involved a high degree of interaction with the audience (Mark 8.27–10.52). …
John was puzzled by Jesus’ ministry. If Jesus was truly the Messiah, and if he came to bring release to the captives, Lk 4:18, then why was he, John, languishing in jail? More importantly, if Jesus was the Messiah, why wasn’t he going about his ministry as John had expected, Lk 3:16-17?
Doubt and uncertainty seem to be leading characteristics for many spiritual leaders, as with Moses, Num 11:10-15; Elijah, 1 Kin 19; Jeremiah, 20:7-9,14-18. …
With tongue very firmly in cheek, Colin Adams offers vital advice for anyone who wants to make a train-wreck of sermon application.
1. Interpret the text wrong. The key question to ask is: ‘What do you want the text to say?’ This approach cuts out all the pointless hard work with the text and eliminates the need to reach for those stuffy commentaries.
2. Ignore application or minimise it. Application is hard work for both preacher and hearer. …
He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or a total ban on the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide.”
It’s a horrible thought to try to imagine life without someone you dearly love.
The disciples were having to get used to the prospect of life without Jesus.
They are sharing one last meal with him. He must leave them, they can expect to be treated with terrible hostility after his departure; but they’ve got to carry on without him and witness on his behalf before a hostile world. …
Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) famously defined preaching as ‘the bringing of truth through personality’.
I have long considered this definition to be pregnant with meaning, for it seems to suggest a number of important corollaries. It suggests that in addition to the non-negotiable truth content that is fundamental to the preacher’s message:-
the preacher is not ‘anonymous’, but is a real person, speaking to real persons
each preacher should have something distinctive (unique, perhaps) to offer by way of style and emphasis that arises from the distinctive (unique, perhaps) aspects of his own personality
it is proper (desirable, perhaps) for the preacher to draw on his person characteristics and life experiences while shaping his message
Christian truth which has not been, and cannot be, ‘lived’, is mere theorising
this seems to confirm John Owen’s dictum that, ‘no man preaches that sermon well to others that doth not first preach it to his own heart.’
Picture a sumo wrestler…an aging rock star…a mad professor…a spiritual person. What did you see? Mother Teresa? A Buddhist monk? The Archbishop of Canterbury? Yourself?
Here is a description of a Christian disciple.
It all begins, not with a set of instructions, but with a pronouncement of blessing. There are people who might be considered unfortunate, pitiable even. But they live under God’s favour. They are the luckiest people in the world.