Wednesday, May 2, 2007

DTS Alumni: Preaching the Word

I got the following in an email and thought it might be of note for us DTSers. Unlike the O'Reilly factor, I have not provided name and town, name and town, name and town, though it is pithy.

I just met with a church where one of your fellow DTS alums was the prior pastor. I just have to ask a couple of questions concerning his preaching style. Did they allow you guys an hour for your sermons in preaching class? Next, did you guys break down the Hebrew or Greek as part of your sermon every Sunday? I was questioning whether the prior guy did this until one who was defending him tried to explain why he did it. The prior pastor would put the week's scripture passage on the powerpoint in Greek, for instance, and then proceed to explain whether this was a noun, verb, adj, adv, etc. Somehow he couldn't figure out why the numbers weren't growing at the church.

Would you like to opine?

I took four preaching classes at DTS as a student and then taught preaching as an adjunct prof, so I felt pretty confident to see this as outside of the mode of preaching instruction taught ... at least in the last dozen years or so. Sermons are limited in class to 12 minutes for the first and then 15, except 20 minutes for the "senior sermon."

This was not the "Expository Preaching" taught at DTS, at least not in the recent past, for in the department ...
"Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical proposition discovered from a Spirit-directed exegetical/theological interpretation of a text and applied by the Holy Spirit through a preacher into a specific audience for the glory of God."

Me thinks (and hopes) this guy was an extreme example, but I wonder if our affection for explanation (which is huge) can run amuck, such as seems the case here. I know I was prone initially to the 50 minute sermon which was more an exegetical commentary than a sermon, but I didn't learn that at DTS. Yet, I did think that volumes of insight about the text and very little concern for its applicability to the audience was something I actually had to unlearn while at seminary and in the pastorate.

So, my question(s) for you, beloved DTSer ...

How do you feel your preaching classes prepared you for regular preaching? Or to ask it another way, what impact on your preaching did those classes have? How different is your preaching now from the ways in which you were instructed back in the day?
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
-2 Timothy 4:1-4, ESV


Lance said...

The thing that benefited me the most was the process we learned in discerning the exegetical, theological and homiletical propositions.
The "bullet, not buckshot" idea is indispensable to my preparations and keeps me on course.

Still unsure about the HP being in the form of a command,though. Sometimes I like to hammer home the point through the use of personal examination questions. At other times, the point seems so obvious, that conveying it by a command seems to insult the intelligence of the listeners.

GUNNY said...

Yeah, I think an imperative HP is a good way to start folks off with a deliberate view toward application of truth to the audience, but wise sages who have scrawny pulpits realize one can be just as direct in application with other means, which may at times be more powerful.

Sometimes the TP makes for a good HP, with some example applicational slooge as points upon which to start their personal application flowing.

Danke for the thoughts.