The Big Idea: Marry biblical truth and passionate delivery
Make a commitment to exegete the biblical text and to deliver it with freshness and passion.
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PreachingToday.com: Based on your knowledge of preaching in the church today, what are two or three big ideas that you'd like to share with our community of preachers?
Hershael York: A couple of things come to my mind. First, I'm passionate about an approach to preaching that marries solid exegesis with passionate delivery. Frankly, I see preachers today erring in one of two directions and rarely finding the balance. That is, some preachers are grounded in the world of the Bible and committed to the text, but when they preach they're dull and lifeless. They put their people to sleep. On the other hand, there are other preachers who are very creative and passionate and effective communicators, but they are not rooted in the biblical text. I'm seeing both of these extremes. We need to have preachers who marry these two things—a commitment to the biblical text and a commitment to passionate, creative delivery.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of students who are almost afraid of any kind of sermon delivery practices. They don't even want to think about how to deliver the sermon in a creative way. They're leery of the human means of a sermon. But that's what God uses in preaching. God uses human means.
But there are also preachers who are so enamored with their creative delivery that they act more like Paul's opponents in 1 Corinthians: they're caught up in everything but the message of the cross. The message of the gospel, the message of the cross, becomes secondary to the communication experience.
So there's got to be a marriage between text and delivery. 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. I'm passionate about seeing both things done well.
When you talk about sermon delivery does that include how we use illustrations?
Yes. I take like Nathan as a model. When Nathan went to David, Nathan could have just delivered the message. He could have said, "David, you're a sinner. Repent." But he didn't do that. Instead, he figured out a way to deliver the message so he got David emotionally committed first. Nathan spoke to David's mind by addressing his heart. So notice how he captures David's heart and gets him committed. David responded to Nathan's parable about the man who steals that poor family's only little lamb by saying, "Man, this guy ought to die. He's got to pay back fourfold." Now David is emotionally involved in the message. Then Nathan gives him the message: "David, you're that man."
You see that approach in the New Testament too. Paul does it. In Acts 7, Stephen does it as he recounts the incredible history of redemption in Old Testament. Stephen uses those stories to get people emotionally committed to his message. They're so involved that at the end they kill him!
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