Resolved: Preach the Text

resolved2I am not a huge advocate of resolutions.  But since everyone will be talking about resolutions this week, why not offer some nudges here?

Here are some preacher resolutions that might grab your attention:

Perhaps to pray more specifically and fervently, to apply your preaching more directly, to call for response more overtly, to preach from a book you’ve never touched before, to continue to develop by reading a preaching book (or maybe one each quarter).  Maybe you want to spend some time with a preacher who can shape your theology and influence your preaching?  (Perhaps Luther, Sibbes, Cotton, Newton, Edwards, Spurgeon?)  Maybe you could resolve to attend a conference or training event for further equipping, to take a formal class or distance learning course, to get specific feedback or pre-sermon input every other month, to begin the process of mentoring another preacher during the year, to get more involved in your church small group program so as to get to know your people more fully, to read through the Bible in English a couple of times or more, to read the New Testament through in Greek, to approach someone and request their input as a mentor, to preach first person properly for the first time, to preach from a difficult genre, to refresh or stretch yourself in exegetical skills, theology or some other area of “divinity” studies.  Do you have a resolution?

Here’s one you might like to try on for size:  Some time back I finished preparation for a Sunday  sermon on Hebrews 13:20-21.  I had some spare time and was curious what other preachers have done with the text since it is not a typical epistle paragraph.  So I did a search and a quick skim through about ten sermons on the text.  I entered the process with a small amount of interest, but I finished with a large amount of concern.  Some of the sermons had good content, they very orthodox, theologically solid, but why was it that none of the examples I looked at seemed to be trying to preach what the author intended?  Why did they feel like Bible truths strung together with passing reference to these two verses, rather than actually preaching the intended truth of these verses?

A suitable resolution for 2015 would be to always genuinely seek to preach the meaning of each text as intended by its author.  Let’s not preach messages from texts, or messages based on a text.  Let’s preach the message of the text.


6 thoughts on “Resolved: Preach the Text

  1. As always, Peter, thank you for urging us in a direction that honors our Lord. Keep up the good work this coming year.

    P.S. I noticed in your list of resolutions, you left out reading through the OT in Hebrew (*smile*).

    • First person preaching is where the preacher preaches from the perspective of, and in the character of, somebody involved in the text being preached. For instance, you might preach the story of the Good Samaritan as the man who fell among thieves. Not an easy way to preach, but it can be very expository and very powerful.

      • Ah, I see. I’ve seen this done once or twice, but never seen it done well. It always seems like an unconvincing gimmick to me — neither a drama sketch nor a preach. Have you done it yourself? Has it worked well?

      • I have seen it done well and not done well . . . it can backfire badly, but if done well, with proper preparation and a genuine commitment to actually preach the message of the text, then it can be powerful, poignant, intriguing, memorable and highly effective. I have done it a few times – some better than others!

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