Podcast Episode 9 | 13 min
Preaching with Intensity
Finding and conveying the emotion of the text in your sermon.
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Matt Woodley: This is Matt Woodley, and this is Monday Morning Preacher, where we review one aspect of preaching and analyze one master preacher. I'm here today with my guest host and fellow preacher Kevin Miller. So Kevin, this past week I had this dream.
Kevin Miller: Okay, Matt, in this podcast we analyze sermons, not your dreams.
MW: Well, this was a dream about preaching.
KM: Oh, so you're saying it counts.
MW: I think it does. So there is this preacher guy who was giving the sermon in this classic-looking church sanctuary—wooden railing, nice pulpit, stained-glass window behind the preacher—and I have to say the preacher looked a lot like me, but I'm not sure if it was me. This preacher started preaching in a really loud high-pitched, intense, kind of angry and completely strained and unnatural voice. I mean, there was no modulation, there was no change in pitch or volume. It was just full-throttled, unrelenting intensity through the entire sermon.
KM: Wow. So what did your therapist say about your dream?
MW: Well, I haven’t had a chance to discuss it yet.
KM: So what happened in the rest of your dream?
MW: Well, the dream ended, but I do remember thinking, Do I sound like that guy, I hope not. And curiously enough, I remember in the dream that the church was completely empty. I mean, the guy's screaming drove everyone away and there he was left completely by himself.
KM: So today are we talking about screaming and preaching?
MW: Well, we are talking about emotional intensity. And as you can see, maybe I have some issues with emotional intensity in preaching so I want you to start here, help me out. Emotional intensity in preaching. What is it? But tell us first, what is it not?
KM: Well, it's not doing like the figure in your dream did, but here is what I think it means. It means that when you go to a biblical text or a biblical truth, it has an emotion in it. So some texts are gentle and some are urgent and so on. So what I think we are talking about today is how do you convey the emotion of the text at the intensity level it appears in the text so that your listener feels that same emotion at the same level of intensity as it appears in the text?
MW: Excellent definition. I love that. So when we were looking through over 25 years of sermons on Preaching Today, we found some great examples of how to use emotional intensity. We got preachers like EV Hill, H.B. Charles Jr., Samuel Rodriguez, and even Tim Keller. Now, some people, that may surprise them.
KM: Yeah, it surprises me a little.
MW: I'll get back to Keller in a few minutes and I will prove my point that he preaches with emotional intensity. Anyway, we chose a sermon from Francis Chan, who's got a lot of …
KM: Emotional intensity.
MW: He channels it, man. Anyway, he was preaching on …
Francis Chan is former pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God.