It is easy to preach something less than a sermon. We thought of one example yesterday – the curiosity satisfier. Today I’d like to list a few from a list by Dwight Stevenson (published in A Reader on Preaching). His goal is to help us spot sermon replacements and erradicate them from our ministry. Here are his titles with brief explanations:
Moralistic harangue – The exhorting, punishing or whipping of our people because they are not living up to their obligations. Many people seem to appreciate receiving these bashings. Why? Perhaps because they don’t like themselves much anyway, feel guilty and appreciate taking their medicine. “It is a fine way of paying for sin without repenting of it.”
Aesthetic artifact – The carefully produced work of art that one hopes will be a blessing to behold for generations, rather than carefully designed nourishment for these people now.
Pontifical pronouncement – The preaching of one who seeks to do the thinking for the people, standing in authority for the immature who find security in such “assistance.”
Museum lecture – Often the best one can hope for is mildly interesting and informative, but often becomes dull and boring, and is almost always irrelevant.
Palliative prescription – As we run from moralistic harangue we are always in danger of falling into cheap grace, easy assurance, repentance free pardon and superficial pain-relief.
That’s enough for today. It’s only half his list, but that’s enough. Again, these examples of surrogate sermons remind us of the importance of the Bible in expository preaching. The Bible does not merely give a starting point, or illustrative material, or a stamp of approval. The Bible has to be in charge of the message – the idea, the content, the relevance, the mood, the goals.