Sep 7, 2013

The Adventure Called Preaching

Preaching is an adventure. It really is. It’s an exciting, somewhat risky enterprise, because you never know what’s going to happen when you preach. There’s no way to predict it. There’s no way to control it.

Perhaps you can identify with what David Larsen writes in The Anatomy of Preaching?

Every preacher has discouraging moments when the whole enterprise seems futile and precarious. Some sermons come rushing and surging in the study, like molten lava flowing from a Vesuvius. Other messages cause indescribable difficulty. A few have been for me as close to childbirth as I shall ever come. And what burns and lives in preparation does not always ignite in the pulpit. On the brighter side, what seemed stillborn in preparation may resuscitate in delivery. (12)

That’s why preaching cannot be reduced to a mere science. Nor is it simply an art. No, it truly is, in addition to those things, an adventure.

Part of the joy of preaching is the very adventure of it. No matter how carefully I prepare, there is a serendipitous element to my preaching that is formed and guided by the Holy Spirit. The well of my mind—a lifetime of Scripture that has been poured into my soul—is so much deeper than what is in my notes. Informed by the Word and energized by the Holy Spirit, the preaching experience is a dynamic adventure. (John MacArthur, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, 314)

So, yes, craft and deliver your sermon according to the well-established principles of hermeneutics and homiletics, but as you do, remember that God is at work through his Word and by his Spirit to accomplish his purposes, and, therefore, there’s no telling what might happen.

Question: Have you ever been surprised by what took place as you preached?