You’re Invited to a Wedding!

May 13, 2013

There’s a wedding that should be taking place in every church on every Sunday from every pulpit. It’s the wedding of biblical content and passionate delivery.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency for only one party to show up for the preaching event.

  1. Biblical content only sermons. On the one hand, there are preachers who are thoroughly biblical but painfully boring.
  2. Passionate delivery only sermons. On the other hand, there are preachers who are wonderfully engaging but woefully unbiblical (or nonbiblical).

In a recent interview with Preaching Today, Hershael York rightly argues that the two should be married not separated.

Both extremes, of course, need to be addressed, but let me target those who are gulity of preaching “biblical content only sermons” and who don’t put much stock into delivery concerns.

Now I will frankly admit that I am sympathetic to this tendency, because whatever else a preacher does he must say what God said. However, a commitment to biblical exposition and biblical faithfulness in what is said need not exclude a concern for how it is said.

As York reminds us,

Of course the text is primary, but, frankly, no matter how well you know the text, if you’re putting people to sleep, they’re not hearing it anyway.

Russell Moore puts it this way:

Delivery matters because you can falsify a statement simply by the way you say it. You can confuse people with your arguments by the way you argue. Boring preaching can actually enable your listeners to remain in the very illusions you’re trying to destroy. Working on your delivery is not about being a peddler of the Word of God; it’s about removing the distraction that comes from boring preachers. Sometimes, when we hear Paul’s warning about people with itching ears who “will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2 Tim 4:3) we assume that they must be piling up really skillful orators. So, we conclude, it must be more spiritual to come to the pulpit and say, “Well, here we are continuing our 35th week in our series of Philippians chapter one, verse two, part A. Here it is, let’s move on through this.” No! . . .

If you’re charged with adrenaline for the gospel, and with compassion for people held captive by the principalities and powers, and if you know that the voice of Jesus is what drives back the illusions and powers of satanic darkness, and that people hear the voice of Jesus when a text of Scripture is explained clearly, then you can’t help preach with a Galilean accent. (“This Is War: Expository Exorcism,” a chapter in A Guide to Expository Ministry, 36, emphasis mine)

So I invite you to a very important wedding–the wedding of “solid exegesis with passionate delivery.”

Kerry McGonigal

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In Adam by birth but in Christ by grace. That's my story. Husband to one and father of three. Pastor, homiletics teacher, and passionate proponent of expository preaching. If you like what you've read and want to be notified of future posts, take a second and subscribe via RSS or email (on the right sidebar). Opinions expressed here are my own.

One response to You’re Invited to a Wedding!

  1. Kerry, I think most would agree with you. I have heard some awfully dry sermons, some of them from me. The key that I have found is that we need to be looking for the preaching point in our message. What is God saying and how does he intend for us to engage with the text, often on an emotive level? How are our minds to be gripped by what God is saying? (As in Luke 24.32)

    When I was in school, I used to listen to a lot of Jesse Boyd at Mount Calvary. He usually had detailed exposition of the passages he was preaching and would say his messages were like “sausage links” and he could break off where ever he was and pick up the following week. However, he was so engaged by the text that he made it live for us every time. That comes with experience and a long-term relationship with the Lord of the book.

    Anyway, good thoughts and a good reminder.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3