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Guide Preaching for the Contemporary Service

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Broadman Press, , If that happens, worship will be meaningful. One of the results of the new balance between the elements in worship is the fact that sermons have gotten shorter. Jokes about long sermons have always been the stock and trade of the laity. Such stories have some basis in fact. Tales abound about the one to three hour sermons of the Puritans. Revival preachers of yore have been known to carry on well over an hour. When I was growing up, sermons of thirty to forty-five minutes seemed to be standard fare.

Even today, there are many worship services in which sermons consume that much time. Today, however, sermons have decreased in length. It is not uncommon for sermons to take only about fifteen minutes of an hour-long worship service. In many churches, the old or minute sermon of 50 years ago has given way to a or minute sermon today, and this in itself has altered the character of the presentation.

There is no longer time for the elaborate development of complex sermon themes or the narration of several stories in the course of the sermon. Now the sermon must be sharply defined from the outset; the preacher must introduce it succinctly and effectively; and the development must be quick, clear, and to the point. Illustrations must be relatively short and the conclusion or call to commitment must be swift and efficient, without the emotionalism and lingering appeal of the old evangelistic style. The reasons for this are many.

One is the fact mentioned above concerning the emphasis on the importance of all the elements of worship. Preaching must give away some of its time m order to let the other elements have their part to play. If you include more music, more responsive readings, more prayers, there will be less time for preaching. Robert Young, a Presbyterian pastor, wrote a book entitled, Be Brief About It, in which he emphasized the idea that time is of importance in our day and people do not want to waste it.

We are a nation on the run. Better to recognize this in preaching than to tilt at the windmill of the American experience. We preach in an environment where time is of the essence. The very idea of brevity conjures up crisp words, tight language, orderly arrangement, deft illustration. The congregation reinforces this idea and prods us to brevity.

The Westminster Press, , One argument for shorter sermons is, of course, the reduced attention span of people who are conditioned by the electronic media. The public speaker, even the preacher, may have difficulty holding an audience beyond fifteen minutes; the longest space between commercials on television is about fourteen minutes. Many preachers have adjusted the length of their sermons to this fact. Rice, The Embodied Word Minneapolis: In a culture where people get their news summed up, where political campaigns are run through quick thirty-second sound bites, where television programs are interrupted quite frequently by ads that give the mind a rest, listening to a long sermon will not be welcomed.

Hearers who have trouble sitting still for any length of time expect the truth to be given to them simply and quickly. It is true this is a restless, busy generation. While there are always exceptions to the rule, most people will not easily sit through long, drawn-out sermons. Shorter sermons will probably be the way of the future. That does not mean this is always a positive. Lessening the time for preaching the scripture in worship could result in missed opportunities to strengthen biblical understanding. Increasing understanding of the Christian faith is one of the major challenges for preaching in the new century.

If sermons are shorter, the amount of information that can be communicated will be decreased. If sermons do become shorter, preachers will need to take greater care to prepare and deliver effective sermons.

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However, we need to understand that the length of a sermon does not always determine its effectiveness. Ronald Allen makes these insightful comments:. I sometimes read and hear preachers say that the electronic media have reduced the attention span of the contemporary congregation. People are quite willing to participate for long periods of time when the sermon makes an important connection between the gospel and their worlds, especially when the preacher is lively.

Fred Craddock, for instance, seldom preaches for less than thirty minutes. Afterward, congregations marvel that so much time passes. Lyle Schaller, who studies congregations in great detail, finds that in a significant segment of congregations that are growing in faith and numbers, sermons are in the minute range.

I do not argue for longer sermons. I simply point out that the length of the sermon cannot be determined by formula. I agree with that assessment. A twenty-minute sermon could be as boring as ever, while a sermon that lasts an hour can be riveting. The content of the sermon, the images in the sermon, the presentation of the sermon-these are the factors that enable sermons to be meaningful.

Whatever the length, preachers should strive to make every word and paragraph powerful. The Holy Spirit will always use sermons, especially those prepared and presented well. In the periodical Preaching , pastor Mark Abbott commented on his struggle with preaching:. I started preaching thirty years ago. I dressed up the outline with illustrations along with additional supporting materials. As I began to hear and read about narrative preaching and inductive preaching, I started to recognize the breadth of literary genre in the Scriptures, demanding varied approaches to shaping the sermon.

Many preaching theorists discount, even deride the analytical, propositional approach I used to work with most. His statements point out an important truth. By far the major change in preaching during the last quarter century has been the shape or design of the sermon. For a long time sermons were patterned after a logical, deductive approach. Many sermons were verse by verse expositions of a text.

It was very logical and orderly. Sermons presented a great deal of exegetical, biblical information. However, during the s there was a change in thinking. This method sought to understand how people heard the sermon and sought to pattern a sermon so hearers might participate in it. Instead of starting with a biblical truth and then relating it to the congregation, inductive preaching starts with a human need or experience and then relates that to the Bible.

The main question after an inductive sermon would not be the idea one learned, but what experience had been gained.


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With the coming of the inductive approach to preaching, new sermon types arose, types like narrative, story, illustration sermons. In worship, preachers deviated from the teaching format and began to experiment with new ways of embodying the sermon. Dialogue sermons were presented, with two or more persons interacting during the preaching moment. Dramatic monologues developed in which the preacher would play the role of a biblical character, often dressing up like that character. Sermons arose that were enhanced by the use of drama or visual aids, like slides or clips of movies.

Sermons often became more dramatic as the preacher became a storyteller, weaving plot and characters and action into a sermon. Congregations no longer were exposed to only one type of sermon design, but variety became the spice of the worship hour. These different sermon designs brought about changes in worship. Space would have to be provided for drama and for others who might participate in a dialogue sermon.

Often laypersons would have to be trained to help aid the preaching moment. The other elements of worship needed to be adapted to the type of sermon to be presented. Such changes have not been negative. There is a need to continue to develop different approaches to communicating the message. The last word on the best type of sermon has not yet been spoken. God speaks through many voices. The deductive sermon can still be an effective means for preaching. In fact, some biblical material-such as the letters of Paul-may be best preached deductively.

A lot more determines the value of a sermon than its design.

contemporary Worship | sermons

Delivery, word usage, relevant material, the relationship of the pastor and people, and the other elements of the worship service-all of these factors enter into the equation. Variety is the spice of life, and it can enhance a worship service by providing different approaches to planning a service each Sunday.

Since from around the third century, the pulpit has been a major piece of worship furniture. Preaching was done from behind it. The pulpit was a symbol of the importance of the preaching of the word. In the Baptist church, the pulpit was usually placed in the center of the worship altar, denoting the centrality of the preaching of the word.

Baker Book House, , 5. The central position of a fixed pulpit is thought to suggest a theological prominence about the preaching of the Word of God. It is thought that somehow, the furniture represents the authority of Scripture in a visible and tangible way. It is, therefore, not without pause that the preacher abandons the sacred desk. That philosophy has changed. More and more, preachers are coming out from behind the pulpit. Many preachers walk back and forth across the stage as they preach. Some even walk into the congregation. Many churches have eliminated the pulpit altogether.

With the coming of multipurpose worship centers, many opt to preach without a pulpit or from a small lectern. Are the changes good for preaching? The debate rages on. Some feel this move devalues the importance of the message and places more importance on the messenger. With no pulpit, I come on stage, and I am the center.

It does seem comforting to realize that preachers stand within the long tradition of the preaching of the Word. It was going on before we came on the scene, and it will be going on long after we are gone. What is most important is the Word, and not the one who brings it. What a privilege to be allowed to do that. Others feel just as strongly that leaving the pulpit makes a strong symbolic statement. Kenton Anderson adds his view to the discussion:. The preacher who walks out from behind the pulpit offers a nonverbal affirmation of interest in and proximity to the people.

Contemporary audiences are little inclined to respect authority clerical collars, pulpits. I want to be close to you as we talk about these things. You can trust me. Many preachers point out that their parishioners comment on the ability to see all of the preacher. Body language is a major part of nonverbal communication and some feel the more you see of the body, the better. Opponents of this approach point out that the majority of gestures take place from the waist up, gestures that can be just as effective standing behind the pulpit. One wonders what gestures take place from the waist down that will aid communication?

So the debate rages. As a teacher of homiletics, I encourage students to remember that if they move from behind the pulpit, seek to have movement with purpose. Any movement without purpose can be distracting. Samuel French, , That is not bad advice for the preacher. In the end, do they remember us or the message? Will the movement help communicate the message?

That is the important question. Some preachers are effective behind the pulpit, some away from it. In treating specific unsettling passages, Achtemeier also addresses thematic difficulties found throughout the Old Testament, such as the frequent militaristic portrayals of God, the often perplexing behavior of Old Testament prophets, and the many anthropomorphic descriptions of God.

In most twenty-first-century congregations, women outnumber men. The result is that many women feel detached from the messages conveyed from the pulpit. How can a pastor effectively minister to both men and women? Preaching That Speaks to Women invites preachers to consider how gender affects the way sermons are understood and calls them to preaching that relates to the entire congregation.

Drawing on her many years of speaking to women, men, and preachers, Alice Mathews explores both the myths and the realities of women as listeners. She considers the ways women think about themselves, make ethical decisions, handle stress, learn, and view leadership and power, and applies the results to the task of preaching. Mathews urges preachers to be mindful of language and advocates the use of anecdotes that do not ignore women or merely typecast women in narrowly defined roles.

Preaching That Speaks to Women is an important guide for seminary students preparing for ministry and pastors who want to reach the entire congregation. Mathews is Lois W. Previously, Alice served as a missionary in Europe for 17 years, taught at Denver Seminary, and was dean of the Seminary of the East Philadelphia Center. She is widely known as cohost with Haddon Robinson of the daily Bible-teaching radio program Discover the Word. Preaching the Old Testament, which can seem harsh and foreign to modern listeners, can be a challenge. In fact, many preachers abandon it altogether because of the difficulties in making it understandable and relevant to those in the pews.

But to appreciate the full depth and beauty of New Testament teaching we must build our foundation on an understanding of the Old Testament. The insights of the Hebrew language, poetry, historical narratives, and prophetic offerings were important to the writers of the New Testament, and they should be to us as well.

Preaching the Old Testament equips pastors to keep up on the Hebrew language, prepare to preach the various sections of the Old Testament, and see how it can be interpreted in light of its context and of our world today. Scharf , associate professor and chair of pastoral theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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Shaw , emeritus dean and professor of preaching, Lincoln Christian Seminary. Gibson has skillfully combined the works of many well-known preachers, including Haddon Robinson and Bryan Chapell , into one practical guide written for present and future church leaders.

Including questions for reflection and suggestions for further reading, this helpful resource addresses important topics such as preaching to a postmodern audience, pluralism, and the intersection of preaching and psychology. Do you think a postmodern audience may render your preaching post-relevant? Such preaching, however, requires more than just contextualizing the message.

Valuable appendixes detail steps to an effective sermon and provide questions for assessing cultural developments with spiritual discernment. Whether a new or experienced speaker, in church leadership or in parachurch ministry, you can make an impact on the rising global village—starting now. He is the author of Kindled Fire: How the Methods of C.

Spurgeon Can Help Your Preaching. Hendricks , emeritus distinguished professor of Christian education and leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary. How does one preach to a congregation immersed in a postmodern culture outside the church, but often finding itself in another culture within its walls?

Kari Jobe - Teaching on Worship

Do the postmodern criticisms offer any opportunities to the preacher for addressing the great truths of Scripture in new and fresh ways? Robert Kysar and Joseph M. Webb , both scholar-preachers, believe that they do. New Perspectives for Proclaiming the Message seeks to inform and encourage pastors who want to expand their horizons. Webb and Kysar have addressed the need for pastors to understand the staggering numbers of new approaches to biblical interpretation and the bewildering choices for sermon preparation that they represent. In this book, they offer introductions to each of the major types of interpretive methods and point out the implications for each in preparing a sermon.

To exemplify how each of the major methods impacts the preaching task, they offer a sample sermon for each method. This is a book that will bring pastors up to date in biblical interpretation while demonstrating what difference it makes for preachers as they seek to use the various methods. New Testament Images for a Changing Church. Webb is professor of global media and communication and dean of the School of Communication and Media at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

The spiritual lives of your church members are driven largely by what you choose to preach about on Sunday morning. If your messages are scattered, unrelated to one another, or haphazardly prepared, it can be difficult for people to make connections to aid their spiritual growth.

contemporary Worship | sermons

Preaching with a Plan shows you a step-by-step process on how to develop a cohesive preaching plan to guide your choice of Scripture, topics, and concepts to use in worship services. It answers these critical questions:. Insights and advice from leaders in the field! Preaching with Power brings together powerful personal interviews with dynamic preachers and those who influence preaching today. Discover here how these top communicators prepare and plan for sermons, what role culture plays in shaping their messages, who influenced their ministries, and what they have to say to you.

Hawkins, Jim Henry , T. Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine and PreachingNow , a weekly email newsletter that reaches more than 12, pastors nationwide. He is also the author or editor of several books and has served on the administrative staffs at Southern Baptist Seminary and Samford, Palm Beach Atlantic, and Union universities. He resides in Franklin, Tennessee. Preparing Evangelistic Sermons is a simple do-it-yourself resource for evangelistic preaching. Using principles rooted in his seven-step Scripture sculpture method, Dr.

Ramesh Richard guides you through the foundation, framework, method, and special issues of preaching salvation. This practical guide also includes helpful appendices, outlines, and checklists for pastors, seminarians, and church leaders. Anyone desiring deeper training in evangelistic sermons will find this book to be a valuable, life-changing guide. Sermons are what we make with what God has made. His method, explained in this book, has been field-tested in training seminars for thousands of pastors and preachers around the world, and it will be invaluable to you as well.

Preparing Expository Sermons is a simple do-it-yourself resource for developing and preaching expository sermons. It guides you through a seven-step process, with many practical suggestions and illustrative charts along the way. In addition, there are 13 appendixes that include information on:. Many pastors are just too busy to follow the latest theories on preaching and sermon form. Cahill seeks both to educate the working pastor on the current issues of sermon design and enable them to use this design in a way that can change their preaching. After first laying the theoretical groundwork with discussions of the theological, cultural, and literary roots of the new approaches to sermon design, Cahill expertly guides the preacher through a practical process for designing sermons that speak to people in the world today.

Anderson , professor of homiletics, Northwest Baptist Seminary. Cahill has been in the pastorate for more than 20 years. Faithlife Your digital faith community. Logos Powerful Bible study tools. Faithlife TV A Christian video library. Faithlife Proclaim Church presentation software.

Chapters 3 vols. The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible 43 vols. Proverbs John Phillips Commentary Series 27 vols. Products Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection 19 vols. Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection 19 vols. Willhite, Keith Schmit, Clayton J. Pay Monthly Customize the length of your payment plan in cart. Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection Publisher: The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching: Connecting the Bible to People Editors: Keith Willhite and Scott M.

An experienced and skilled group of contributors to this volume includes: Paul Borden Scott M. How to Preach without Notes Author: Robinson and Torrey W. Haddon Robinson has done it again—given us a book that combines his deep commitments to both expository and culturally sensitive preaching. This book significantly advances our understanding and practice of the first-person narrative sermon. Kelderman, associate professor of preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary Stories work.

Actually, good stories work when told well. Torrey and Haddon Robinson address both concerns: They encourage the first-timer that he should, and can, preach narrative sermons. They teach the more seasoned story-teller that he should, and can, preach narrative sermons better. Finally, the Robinsons provide rationale, guidance, and examples. Most fail the biblical text, or fail artistically, or both. But now there is help. Robinson Professor of Preaching, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary For many years first person narrative sermons in costume have been a regular part of my preaching as a pastor, seminary teacher, and military chaplain.

Young people and children in particular have often expressed gratitude to me for bringing the message of the Bible with such clarity and heart impact. I commend Torrey and Haddon Robinson for their concise, clear, and creative guide to this challenging but powerful preaching form. The sample sermons are particularly helpful. Bringing the Sermon to Life Editors: Jana Childers and Clayton J. Baker Academic Publication Date: Two of our finest teachers of preaching here collaborate on an invigorating book for preachers.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to be enacted, embodied, and performed. Childers and Schmit show us how we preachers can better enable our listeners to not only hear but also perform the Gospel. This book will tell you how! Two consummate performers of the Word themselves, Jana Childers and Clayton Schmit have assembled the leading figures in the field of performance studies—ranging from theology to dramaturgy to musicology—and have produced a book like no other.

It will bless preachers and those who listen to preaching for a long time to come.


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  • This helpful volume proves that such nervousness is unwarranted. God has called the entirety of your being into the service of proclaiming the Word, and this fine book will challenge you to remember that each and every Sunday! The Art of Narrative Exposition Author: One of our best preachers and writers tells us what he does best—and why and how. For too long, one has been viewed as simply a prelude or culmination of the other.

    Quicke helps us understand how worship and preaching function organically and holistically to honor the persons of the Godhead who also comes to us as one. Preaching for Special Services Author: Achtemeier launches out on a campaign to stir preachers to preach the toughest texts of the Old Testament with courage and conviction. Her book is a delight and a challenge. She never fails to provoke, enlighten, encourage. In this collection of sermons Elizabeth Achtemeier shows that even the hard texts of the Old Testament can produce significant and profound preaching.

    Preaching that Speaks to Women Author: Alice Mathews breaks new ground. This book opens the eyes of men and women preachers alike, and it will begin to revolutionize how preachers view listeners in their pews. I found it both enlightening and convicting. I hope that the audience of this book will not be limited to men wanting to address women more effectively, for the volume is relevant to anyone called to a pulpit ministry.

    It brings home how different life experiences lead hearers to receive different messages from the same sermon, and it helps preachers to consider ways to build up in Christ all those in their care.