Here’s the question again:
Since our culture is shaped by the communication of implicit and pervasive ideas, and much of the Scriptures use a narrative communication with ideas implicitly conveyed, are we communicating effectively when we state explicit ideas in preaching?
Two more thoughts:
Generally speaking, explicit statement of the idea is necessary if people are to have any chance of getting it. I’ve seen it time and again in preaching classrooms. The preacher knows that the class will be asked what the main idea of the message was, so they try to exaggerate it, repeating it until they feel almost embarrassed to do so any more. Then when the group is asked for it (knowing they would be asked and some looking for it throughout the message) . . . many fail to give the preachers idea accurately! It is scary as a preacher to realize how easily people miss the main idea, even when we are explicit. So we need to consider how to communicate that idea effectively. Generally this means repetition, emphasis, etc. Sometimes a better way is more subtle, but strong through subtlety (as in an inductive message – less repetition, but more impact). Moving deliberately away from explicit statement of the main idea without a very good alternative strategy and plan seems like homiletical folly.
This question does raise a valid issue. Not only do we need to think about the explicit main idea of our message, but we need to consider our implicit communication. How can we reinforce the main idea through implicit means during the sermon? What other values and ideas are we conveying implicitly in this or any sermon?
Is it right to state the main idea explicitly? I think it is. But this does not call us to simple formulaic approaches to idea repetition. It calls us to wrestle with our entire preaching strategy as we seek to convey the true and exact meaning of the biblical text with impact in the lives of our listeners.