What’s the Big Idea?

26 Feb

I thought I might jot down some interesting quotes from a book on preaching I reviewed a while back, “The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching.”

“Sermons…are not addressed ‘to whom it may concern;’ they are delivered to men and women sitting at a certain time of day, usually on Sunday in a building with a zip code…’” (p.26)

“While people are laughing, crying and identifying with real-life stories in drama and music, they are adopting values that contribute to a declining cultural morality. In other words, it is the stories and ideas taught by stories that influence people more often than the scholarly presentations of those same ideas articulated in speeches and papers.” (p.69)

“I would go one step further and contend that Greek exegesis is simply one form of special hermeneutics that enables us to understand only didactic material. One example of the inability of poorly trained preachers to handle narrative is the constant inconsistency of turning description into prescription….” (p.70)

“Men or women who speak effectively for God must first struggle with the questions of their age and then speak to those questions from the eternal truth of God…To expound the Scriptures so the contemporary God confronts us where we live requires the preacher study his audience as well as his Bible.” (p.85)

“Preaching to convey information is predictable and unthreatening. Preaching to effect transformation is hard work and risky business. Yet that is the whole point of preaching. An effective sermon is measured not by its polished technique but by the ability of the preacher to connect the Word to the reality of the listener’s life. Preachers and sermons can be funny, entertaining, intriguing, intellectually stimulating, controversial, full of impressive theological and doctrinal footpaths, and authoritative. But if ultimately the outcome does not result in a changed life because of an encounter with truth, then it has not been what God intended preaching to be.” (p.125)

“As proclaimers who focus our proclamations on the transformational purposes of Scripture, we need to be careful that we do not emphasize the product of a transformed life without guiding people through the biblical process that enables them to arrive at that destination.” (p.131)

“A good conclusion rearticulates the central idea of the text applicationally and packages the main points in a brief and memorable way. A good applicational conclusion moves the listeners toward a resolve for change in their lives and suggests ways they can apply the text in the coming hours or days.” (p.143)

“Sermon form is debatable. Content is not. The shape of the sermon varies. The idea remains the same. Yet for too long the shape of sermons has been standardized, consisting of three points, reflecting Greco-Roman rhetoric. Sermons like these often ignore the form of the passage – to the sermon’s detriment…Sermon form is flexible, depending on the type of passage and its flow, its purpose, and its audience.” (p.169)

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