or The Art & Mastery of Preaching
“No man can be eloquent on a subject he does not understand”
In an attempt to set forth helpful principles, tools, methods or strategies for preaching that captivates listener it, I suppose, can be easy to succumb to the perception that a mere mastering of elocution can bring about the desired effect. While verbal and non-verbal proficiency is certainly inseparable asset of a competent speaker, I would first like to focus our attention to the cornerstone of the entire matter.
“Faust. What you don’t feel, you’ll never catch by hunting, It must gush out spontaneous from the soul, And, with a fresh delight enchanting, The hearts of all that hear control. Sit there forever! Thaw your glue-pot,— Blow up your ash-heap to a flame, and brew, With a dull fire, in your stew-pot, Of other men’s leavings a ragout! Children and apes will gaze delighted, If their critiques can pleasure impart; But never a heart will be ignited, Comes not the spark from the speaker’s heart.”
This snippet of Goethes script contains a divine truth for anyone with an aspiration to become a practitioner of the highest form of the noble exercise of public speaking – preaching. It can be of little importance to live a life of integrity for secular spokesmen as it is commonly understood that their occupation is merely their source of income. As long as one faithfully communicates given information the job is done. The yoke of a preacher is nonetheless different.
Preaching With Passion
As Faust suggests, preacher must have a spark in his heart. If one is to offer a memorable experience that sticks to the minds of his listeners he must bring passion to the stage. Yet this enthusiasm must not be learned or rehearsed, for only a true passion can ignite fire in a hearers heart. I believe this item almost cannot be emphasized too much. Reverend Doctor G. Campbell Morgan of Westminster Chapel says this about the importance of a genuine passion: “I am not arguing for mere excitement. Painted fire never burns, and an imitated enthusiasm is the most empty thing that can possibly exist in a preacher” Similarly Walter Kaiser asserts that a Word of God must thrill its proclaimer and dominate his whole being in order to have any effect on his hearers.
“From the beginning of the sermon to its end, the all engrossing force of the text and the God who speaks through that text must dominate our whole being. With the burning power of that truth on our heart and lips, every thought, emotion, and act of the will must be so captured by that truth that it springs forth with excitement, joy, sincerity, and reality as an evident token that God’s Spirit is in that word. Away with all the mediocre, lifeless, boring, and lackluster orations offered as pitiful substitutes for the powerful Word of the living Lord. If that Word from God does not thrill the proclaimer and fill [him] … with an intense desire to glorify God and do His will, how shall we ever expect it to have any greater effect on our hearers? (Kaiser 1981: 239)
In his general remarks to delivery J. A. Broadus too affirms statements made above that “…delivery does not consist merely, or even chiefly, in vocalization and gesticulation, but it implies that one is possessed with the subject, that he is completely in sympathy with it and fully alive to its importance; that he is not repeating remembered words, but setting free the thoughts shut up in his mind.” Only when preacher has a genuine relationship with God, walks with Jesus, seeks His will, and he himself has a burden for Gods mission in the world, he can expect to portray the above described passion as these giants of homiletics. Read the rest of this entry »