The Whole Listener

Some preachers preach merely to inform.  Perhaps they are under the impression that the mind is the control center of the human being.  Perhaps that think that their task is merely educative.  Perhaps they are in a tradition that reveres the intellect, but pulls away from other aspects of human complexity.  Perhaps they’ve never known any other approach.

As preachers we must inform, we must explain, we must educate, we must teach.  But our goal is not knowledge.  We do not aim to transfer information.  Rather the goal is transformation.  Consequently we have to consider how God’s Word transforms lives and preach accordingly.

If we preach on the love of God, this cannot be a mere intellectual exercise.  People need to experience something of that love in the event of the sermon.  If we preach on the wrath of God, surely they should feel an appropriate reaction inside – reverence, godly fear?  If we preach on the grandeur of God, it is not enough that they have some facts for a future exam question.

As we preach the Word we seek to not only say what it says, but also to somehow do what it does.  We want to preach so that our listeners somehow experience the truth of the Word of God.  We preach for feelings as well as thoughts.  When the whole person, not just the mind, is engaged, then opportunity for transformation is increased.

Let’s not preach just to the mind.  Nor just to the mind and will.  Let’s be sure to also preach to the heart, to the affections, to the feelings, to the values, to the motives, to the core of the listener.  May we never settle for informative lectures, that is not enough for this Easter-based faith!

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4 thoughts on “The Whole Listener

  1. The sermon is to be a vehicle for the transformation of an individual into Christ likeness. Too, many times sermons are empty of the passion to engage the will to affect change. What a shame to spend so much time and effort to give facts about our God and yet fail to engage our people in a life changing relationship with our God.

    I appreciated your thoughts very much! They need to be sounded regularly and loudly!

  2. Your recent comments on application, and this post on motivation, are by far my weakest points, but I seem almost inept in my ability to incorporate them into my sermons. I am bivocational, and am always against the wall in completing the sermon by Sunday morning. I know this is part of the problem, but even when I attempt to give application and motivation concentrated efforts, I still fall flat.
    would appreciate any suggestions you can offer.

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