Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content


Home > Sermons

Guidelines for a Constructive Church

Too many churches are concerned with a cushion than following Jesus on the way of the cross.

Note from PreachingToday.com: We asked a handful of preachers the following question: What aspect of Dr. King's life and work has had the greatest impact on your role as a pastor and preacher? Read responses from Dr. George C. Waddles, Rev. Bryan Loritts, and Pastor John Ortberg here.

The Story behind the Sermon (by Rev. Lawrence Aker III)

Rev. Lawrence Aker III is the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.

On May 29, 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King came to the Cornerstone Baptist Church as a marked man. He preached with an eerie sense of life's fragility, for he would have less than 700 days to live. Squeezed between an appearance on "Face the Nation" and a commencement address at Bryn Mawr College, he made his way to Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Sandy F. Ray, the sixth senior pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church, had invited him to share in a monumental day. Dr. Ray was a Morehouse colleague of Dr. Martin King Sr., so King Jr. affectionately referred to him as "Uncle Sandy." In this sermon, King makes reference to the near fatal experience when he was stabbed at Blumstein's Department Store during a book signing. He spent significant recovery time in Dr. Ray's home and remained grateful for that gesture. Cornerstone had just completed building a family life center, replete with a gymnasium, classrooms, and apartments. New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller had also come to extend congratulations.

The message "Guidelines for a Constructive Church" offered a clarion call to a nation in the tumult of the "Civil Rights Movement," but it also brings a stirring challenge for Christians today. Dr. King focuses on ministering in the midst of a heavily segregated society while calling followers of Christ to heed the words of the prophet Micah and "not take a position of ease in Zion." Luke 4:18-19 provides the backdrop preaching text for his sermon.

The sermon's introduction readily identifies with the audience. King skillfully makes an analogy between the historical 1954 Supreme Court ruling on education as a guideline to desegregate schools. He then reminds them that in his Word God Almighty has given us guidelines for the operation of the church. The sermon proceeds with three distinct shifts. Each move draws the hearer in with information and instruction.

In the first move, Dr. King asserts that the church must offer Christ's cure for the "broken hearted." He describes an exhaustion of body and spirit, a soul weariness, that can't be treated by modern medicine. King knew it from personal experience. Living for years under intense public scrutiny, intimidation, and even the threat of death, King was well equipped to charge the church to guide the weary through such difficult plights. Nevertheless, King was a model of steadfastness in the midst of a broken-hearted world.

The poet Paul Laurence Dunbar winsomely stated, "We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes." It is the triumphant struggle that King upholds to lift others while battling the fears he courageously faced publically. Pastors and leaders are often forced to wear a mask while hurting themselves. King refers to "chilly winds" of disappointment as one of the culprits. If we dare to be a constructive church today we must address those who are "broken hearted." Whether we partner with medical facilities or heighten awareness of mental health issues, it is incumbent to provide assistance. There is no one programmatic answer to suffering. But for King there was always one ultimate source to bring healing for broken people—"The Fountain of the Almighty." The Constructive Church finds creative ways to lead the hurting to the fountain of the Living Christ.

King's second move urges the church to "Preach the Gospel to the Poor." Dr. King drew national and international attention for his passion to uplift the disenfranchised of the world. In a keen observation, he applauds the scientific achievements of his day, but questions the ability of science and technology to help us live together in equality. Many of the societal ills that King addresses in this sermon have worsened today.

In King's day he challenged Vietnam. In our time we pray for our troops to make it home safely. In King's Day he opposed inadequate educational systems. In our day we seek to stop the "prison pipeline." In King's day he opposed segregation. In our day we seek to stop the proliferation of oppressive pay-day loan stores in communities of color.

The disparity between the haves and have-nots continues to widen. Dr. King would urge us to use the prophetic witness of the pulpit to meet the social needs of our communities. To make his argument clear King employs his full rhetorical powers. The analogy of the punishment of Dives is capped with five charges of why he ends up in "Hades." In the last of his charges, King refers to Dives as, "a conscientious objector in the war against poverty." In other words, Dives never sought to be a change agent in the life of Lazarus, even though he witnessed his need. The "Constructive Church" will not remain silent when seeing the needs of others. King adds that at the judgment day this will be one of the pressing questions: "What did you do for others?"

The third and final move of this sermon calls the Constructive Church to "Preach the Acceptable Year of the Lord." Perhaps to prevent the ministry from reveling in accomplishment without purpose, King reminds his hearers that the time is now. Walter Brueggemann has aptly stated that in order to be a "history maker" you must face "history stoppers." By preaching about Christ's "Acceptable Year of the Lord," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. faced history stoppers throughout his prophetic ministry. In many ways, "The Dream" he shared with the world on the nation's capital added to his legacy as a "history maker." The history stoppers of Bull Conner's carnivorous canines couldn't detour the dream. The water hoses of hate could not wash away the dream. The venom of racial hatred in Mississippi could not derail the dream. In Harlem, Izola Curry sought to stab the dream. Upon visiting the putrid slum conditions, some in Chicago tried to stone the dream. Wiretaps could not confuse the dream. It is the amalgam of such encounters that shaped King's preaching and activism whenever he stood to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

We are aware of the plethora of attempts to prematurely end Dr. King's life before April 4, 1968. However, he personally remained vigilant to "preach the acceptable year of the Lord." The recalcitrant attitude of detractors could not stop the divine assignment.

Based on this sermon, perhaps the most relevant question to ask is, What is "The Acceptable Year of the Lord" for us today? As you read this sermon from nearly fifty years ago, here are three questions to help you evaluate your own ministry: In the Spirit of "King Day," what contribution can I make to those who are broken by the chilly winds of despair? How can my ministry meet the needs of the poor? Will my legacy be that of a history maker or history stopper?


To the distinguished and esteemed pastor of this great church, Dr. Ray, to all of the members and friends of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Brooklyn, my Christian brothers and sisters, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this afternoon for this marvelous occasion. And I want to commend to you under the able leadership of Dr. Ray for the building of this great community center. I journey all over the nation, and I know churches and I know what they are doing. And I think I can say without fear of successful contradiction that this will be the largest and most useful community center built by any Baptist church in our country.

Certainly you are to be praised for this. And when something like this is done it means that the right leadership is around. You have a great pastor and a great preacher. As he says, he knew me before I knew myself. The friendship has been an abiding and long and profound one.

I can never stand in this pulpit without thinking of a very difficult period in my life when I came perilously close to death. Right here in the city of New York in the Harlem community. And I convalesced after that stabbing incident right here in Brooklyn in the home of Uncle Sandy, as we affectionately call him in our family because we grew up thinking he was our uncle. I can never forget how you befriended me here at Cornerstone, how you gave to me and my family every expression of sympathy and support and concern. And I'm sure that through that difficult period I received new courage and new vigor to carry on as a result of all of the wonderful things that you did for us. I never feel like a stranger coming to Cornerstone because in a sense this is home for me. I love the pastor. I love the members, and I love these sacred walls. And so naturally I was proud and I was happy when I discovered that you had taken on this Herculean undertaking and had begun the construction. Such a useful and impressive and beautiful center to carry on the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I regret so much that I cannot linger around to share more of your fellowship. But, as you know, I live one of those lives that's packed with too much activity. I have to appear on a nationwide television program Face the Nation at twelve-thirty in Washington. Then I've got to go from here to deliver a commencement address at Bryn Mawr College in the Philadelphia area at six o'clock. So you can see that this has to be a dash-in/dash-out visit. But when Uncle Sandy calls I can't say no. So when he called me and told me I had to be here today, I had to be here. That was all it was to it.

So happy to see so many of our friends and supporters here. I didn't know Fireball was here. Reverend Nelson Smith, who has worked so closely with us, who's a member of the executive board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the president of our conference of affiliates in S.C.L. in the state of Alabama. And he is a fireball. Anybody who has heard Nelson Smith preach knows that. He's here with Reverend Lou, our dear friend who's seated to my right. And then I'm happy to see Reverend George Lawrence, my dear friend who's doing such a marvelous job in this community, who's a dedicated servant of God. And there are so many others that time will not permit me to mention them, but I'm happy to see everyone of you.

On an occasion like this I'm sure there are many things to think about and many things to preach about. But as we think of the service that this church has rendered and that it will render in an even larger manner through the erection of this community center, I would like to preach this afternoon from the subject "Guidelines for a Constructive Church."

The answer to a broken heart

Our nation has been talking a great deal about guidelines now. I've been reading about guidelines in the newspapers stemming mainly from the Department of Education. The Supreme Court rendered a decision back in 1954 stating that "separate facilities are inherently unequal and that to segregate a child on the basis of his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law." And this was a decision calling for an end to segregation in the public school system. But you know there are forces always resisting and always seeking not to comply even with that which comes from the federal government. And so since that decision was rendered back in 1954 only 5.2% of the Negro students in the South have been placed in integrated schools. And in recent days the Department of Education has set for certain basic guidelines to speed up the process saying that if federal funds are to be submitted to these various school districts they've got to follow the guidelines.

Well, somewhere hovering back the long recesses of eternity, God Almighty set forth certain guidelines for his church. Through the prophets and, above all, through Jesus Christ he made it clear that if we are to receive funds of grace from the Divine budget we've got to follow the guidelines. If a church is to be a constructive church, it must follow the guidelines that have been set forth by God through Jesus Christ. I think the guidelines are clearly stated by our Lord and Master himself.

We turn to the fourth chapter of the Gospel as recorded by St. Luke in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses. Jesus set forth the guidelines:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

I want to deal with just a few of these guidelines, because time will not permit us to touch every one, and, indeed, each one of them can serve as a sermon in itself.

I want to mention first that a constructive church sets out to heal the brokenhearted. Now there is probably no human condition more tantalizing than a broken heart. You see, broken-heartedness is not a physical condition; it is a condition of physical exhaustion. Now a great deal of the broken-heartedness of our generation grows out of the complexity of modern life itself so often hovered up in big cities. In confronting the day-to-day problems that go along with our living of life we end up with broken hearts. But probably more than that the basic reason for a broken heart is the constant experiencing of disappointment.

You know it's difficult to go through life without having to stand amid the chilly winds of disappointment. People are disappointed by various things. This disappointment may grow out of some great hope that we have, some great dream that we have. The fact that we ultimately come to that moment when we discover that our hopes have been blasted and our dreams have been shattered. It may come through the disappointment of a love experience. May come through the disappointment of a broken home. It may come through the disappointment of the loss of a loved one. But whatever it is it leads to a broken heart.

So many people ended up in this broken-heart situation crying out with Shakespeare's Macbeth—that " … Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." So many in moments of broken heartedness end up crying out with the philosopher Schopenhauer. That "Life is an endless pain with a painful end." Others end up crying out with the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar:

A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in.
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double;
And that is life?

So many people feel this way because they have broken hearts. Now it is the role of the church to deal with the brokenhearted. Now you know a doctor can deal with physical ailments. But the doctor can't deal with a broken heart. Pain is one thing, and the doctor can deal with that. But misery is another thing. The doctor can't grapple with misery. Somehow when misery comes into being one must go back to the fountain of the Almighty.

I'm still convinced that the church has the answer to a broken heart. That is a voice saying "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden." As if to say, Come unto me all ye that are disappointed. Come unto me all ye who have anxieties floating in your mental sky. Come unto me all ye who are brokenhearted, and I will give you rest. The church is called to heal the brokenhearted.

Preaching to the poor

And there is another guideline there, and that is that the church is called preach the gospel to the poor. Poverty is a tragic experience. On the one level it may be poverty of the spirit. You know we love America, and we love the democratic process. America has not been true to all of the things she's been called to do. Consequently America stands in a position of having a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to its scientific and technological abundance. The church must tell America that it isn't enough to soar high in the material realm and the technological realm. We've done that well. Through our scientific genius we've robbed distance and placed time in chains. Our jet planes have compressed into minutes distances that once took months. Yes, we've carved highways through the stratosphere. And yet something is still wrong. Seems that I can hear the Master crying through the vistas of time saying, What doth it profit a nation to gain the whole world of means—television, airplanes, subways, and electric light bulbs—and lose the end of souls? This is our problem. In the midst of our affluence, in the midst of the fact that we are the wealthiest nation in the world, we suffer from a poverty of the spirit. We've learned to fly the air like birds. We've learned to swim the sea like fish. And yet we haven't learned the simple art of living together as brothers. That is a word coming to us.

It seems that I can hear the Master saying to America today, Even though you made these gains, in science and technology, if you don't make gains in moral and spiritual terms, you are doomed to destruction. Jesus is saying you have learned somehow to make of your world a neighborhood, and yet you haven't learned to make of it a brotherhood. He is saying you must learn to live together as brothers, or you will all perish together as fools. We are called to preach the gospel to a nation that has a poverty of the spirit.

But not only that. There's a lot of material poverty around. And God didn't intend for his children to live in poverty. And yet we must face the fact, and we as a people know it, fifty-eight percent of the Negro families of the United States are poverty stricken. It isn't limited to our own country. It's all over the world. Like a monster's octopus poverty spreads it nagging tentacles in villages and hamlets all over this world.

I never will forget some years ago when Mrs. King and I journeyed to India. It was a marvelous experience to meet and talk with the great leaders of India. It was a marvelous experience to meet and talk thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people all over the cities and villages of that vast country. My brothers and sisters, I say to you, that there were those depressing moments. How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes evidences of millions of people going to bed hungry at night. How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes millions of people sleeping on the sidewalks at night, no beds to sleep in, no houses to go in. How can one avoid being depressed when he discovers that out of India's population of more than four hundred million people some three hundred and eighty million make an annual income of less than ninety dollars a year. Most of these people have never seen a doctor or a dentist. When I beheld these conditions something within me cried out.

And we in America stand idly by and cannot be concerned. An answer came, oh no, because the destiny of the United States is tied up with the destiny of India and every other nation. And I started thinking of the fact that we spend millions of dollars every day to store surplus food. And I said to myself, I know where we can store that food free of charge—in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God's child in Asia and Africa and South America and in our own nation who go to bed hungry at night. It may well be that we spend far too much of our national budget establishing military bases around the world rather than bases of genuine concern and understanding. The church is called upon to speak to the world, speak to the nations.

Some forty million of our brothers and sisters are poverty stricken in this country. Don't have adequate clothing. Don't have adequate food. Don't have adequate housing conditions. Here they are finding themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. And so often these people are unseen. They become invisible, because we are such a rich nation. Do you know the National Growth Product of the United States this year is some seven hundred and fifteen billion dollars. This is a lot of money. When you see all of this money and all of this wealth, it's so hard to see poor people.

But Jesus one day told a parable, and he gave any kind of word of condemnation to those who failed to see the poor. You know the parable. He talked about a rich man by the name of Dives. The poor man by the name of Lazarus. Lazarus ended up going one way to the bosom of Abraham, and Dives ended up going to hell. There is nothing in that parable which says that Dives went to hell because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. It's the way you use it. Now it's true that one day a rich young ruler came to him and raised questions about eternal life, and Jesus advised that brother to sell all. But in that instance he was prescribing individual surgery rather than setting forth a universal diagnosis. If you will read that parable in all of its symbolism, you will remember that a conversation took place between hell and heaven. On the other end of that long distance call between hell and heaven was Abraham talking to Dives down in hell. Abraham in heaven was a rich man. Go back to the Old Testament. It will tell you about his wealth and his cattle and all that he owned. He was a rich man. He wasn't a millionaire in hell talking with a poor an in heaven. It was a little millionaire in hell talking with a multimillionaire in heaven.

Old Dives didn't go to hell because he was rich. Dives went to hell because he passed by Lazarus every day and yet he never really saw him. Dives went to hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible. Dives went to hell because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. Dives went to hell because he maximized the minimum and minimized the maximum. Dives went to hell because he sought to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.

Jesus is still speaking today saying to his church, "Preach the gospel and administer to the poor. Be concerned about the poor." No matter where you go in life, no matter how high you ascend on the economic ladder, no matter how you ascend on the educational ladder, in that day called judgment day, which is every day that we are judged, the great question will not be How much education did you get? The great question will not be How much money did you acquire? The great question will not be How much prestige did the world surround you with? The great question will not be how many honors you received or how many awards you have on your wall. The great question will be What did you do for others?
It seems that I can hear a voice saying, "I was hungry, and you fed me not. I was naked, and you clothed me not. I was sick, and you visited me not. I was in prison, and you weren't concerned about me."

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he's anointed me to preach the gospel to the brokenhearted, to preach the gospel to the poor." He has also called upon his church "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

The acceptable year of the Lord

Now that's important. "The acceptable year of the Lord." The acceptable year of the Lord is that year that is acceptable to God, because it fulfills the demands of his kingdom. The year of the Lord is not some distant tomorrow, which is beyond history, but the year of the Lord is any year that men decide to do right.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will stop lying and cheating.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men and women will stop throwing their lives with the pressures and know that God gave them a way in righteous living.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when women start using the telephone for constructive purposes, not use it to spread gossip and false rumors on their brothers and sisters.

The acceptable year of the Lord, the year when the United States of America will rely on its moral power, not merely on its military power.

The acceptable year of the Lord is the year when the nations of the world will come to see that war is obsolete, that it must be cast into unending limbo.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will beat their swords into plowshares, bastilles into pruning hooks, and nations will not rise up against nations, neither will they study war anymore.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men learn to live together as brothers. The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when a nation will allow justice to roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when politicians will begin to "do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with their God."

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will get together and know that God rules this universe.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain will be made low, when the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will do unto others as they would have others to do unto themselves.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when the lion and the lamb will lie down together. None shall be afraid. Every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when everybody will recognize that out of one blood God made all men, upon the face of the earth.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every tongue shall confess, when every knee shall bow, when all over the world we'll sing it like we did this afternoon—Hallelujah! Hallelujah! He's King of kings. He's Lord of lords. The kingdom of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when God reigns.

God's guidelines aren't easy

These are part of the guidelines. I'm about through now, but I don't want to leave you with any illusions. When you follow God's guidelines it isn't always easy. It isn't easy for a church. It isn't easy for individuals. When you go out here to help the sick, when you go out of here to deal with the brokenhearted, when you go out of here to help the poor, to really preach the acceptable year of the Lord, it isn't easy. It means suffering and sacrifice. But God wants the church today that will bear the cross. Too many Christians are wearing the cross, and not enough are bearing the cross. Too many churches have a cross sitting at the center, but they aren't willing to follow the true meaning of the cross. The cross means what it says. It's something that you die on. I'm not talking about physical death now. It may mean the death of your prestige. It may mean the death of your popularity. It may mean the death of your budget as it has always stood. But there are too many churches more concerned about a cushion than a cross; more concerned about making the gospel something easy, retranslating the gospel to read, "Go ye into all the world and keep your blood pressure down, and lo I will make you a well adjusted personality." This isn't God's church!

Don't forget that Bethlehem was just eighteen miles from Calvary. You got to go by Calvary. Good Friday is a fact of life for the church and for all individuals, so don't be afraid of suffering for what is right. Don't be afraid of being criticized for what is right. And if you do what I've been talking about this afternoon you're going to be criticized. You're going to be scorned.

Paul tried it. Paul discovered pretty soon that when you follow Jesus you're going to have problems. It seems that I can hear Paul saying to all of us this afternoon, Don't worry about persecution. My life was a series of persecutions. Before my conversion or right after it rather, I was tried for heresy at Jerusalem. And even during that period I was denied by the disciples at Jerusalem. By following Jesus later on I was beaten at Thessalonica. Later on I was mobbed at Ephesus. Later on I was jailed at Philippi. Later on I was shipwrecked at Malta. Later on I was depressed at Athens. I left all of these experiences more convinced than ever before that neither life nor death, angels nor principalities, things present nor things to come, can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It's dark now, but morning will surely come

And I want to say to you this afternoon, my brothers and my sisters, that I'm not worried about tomorrow. I don't know what it holds. But I do know who holds the future, and I know he lives. He's not dead. They haven't reported on all the facts that they discussed his death. But I raise the question when they talk about God being dead. What did he die from? What was his ill? I haven't been able to get the answer yet. I asked who was the coroner that pronounced him dead? And they don't know where he's buried. I know he isn't buried. God still rules. Because I have faith in this God, I have faith in the future.

It's dark now. It's dismal now. But morning will surely come. The Psalmist talked about it. He says that "weeping may tarry for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Oh my friends, sometimes when we look at darkness we get disappointed. Our hearts are broken. But I have a message to tell you—that morning will come. Our slave fore-parents talked about it, and they thought about the midnight surrounding their lives. They would sing, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows but Jesus." But then they started thinking about the fact that morning would come. They started singing, "I'm so glad that troubles don't last always." I'm not in despair this afternoon because I'm so glad that trouble don't last always. Centuries ago Jeremiah raised the question: Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Years later our fore-parents, our slave fore-parents came along. There's nothing to expect morning after morning but the sizzling heat, the rawhide whip of overseer, long rows of cotton. They did an amazing thing. They took a pessimistic situation and used it as the raw material out of which they molded a creative optimism. They did an amazing thing. They looked back across the years, and they took Jeremiah's question mark and straightened it into an exclamation point. They could sing "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul." Then they came with another verse that I like: "Sometimes I feel discouraged … "

I'm not going to fool you this afternoon. Sometimes I feel discouraged, living every day under the threat of death. Sometimes I feel discouraged. Having to stand amidst the surging moment of life's restless sea, sometimes I feel discouraged. Having to face the problems and the frustrations, sometimes I feel discouraged. Many days in Alabama I felt discouraged. Many days in Mississippi I felt discouraged. Many days in the ghettos of the north I felt discouraged. Many days as I live life I felt discouraged. And there have been times when it was difficult to sleep at night. I'd go out and sing this song, "Sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work's in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again." And I've seen the lightning flash. I've heard the thunder roll. I felt sin's breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. I heard the voice of Jesus promise never to leave me. Never to leave me alone. No, never alone! No, never alone! He promised never leave me, never to leave me alone.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he's anointed me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach the gospel to the poor, and preach the acceptable year of the Almighty God.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a prolific author and speaker, and a key leader in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Related sermons

The Second Extreme: Contempt for the Lost

To both experience and celebrate God's grace, we must allow him to swallow us whole.

Don't Go To Church!

Being the church demands more than attendance.
Sermon Outline:

Note from PreachingToday.com: We asked a handful of preachers the following question: What aspect of Dr. King's life and work has had the greatest impact on your role as a pastor and preacher? Read responses from Dr. George C. Waddles, Rev. Bryan Loritts, and Pastor John Ortberg here.

The Story behind the Sermon (by Rev. Lawrence Aker III)


I. The answer to a broken heart

II. Preaching to the poor

III. The acceptable year of the Lord

IV. God's guidelines aren't easy

V. It's dark now, but morning will surely come