Mike’s Thoughts on Preaching and Teaching

I am an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church. “Elders are authorized to preach and teach the Word, to provide pastoral care and counsel, to administer the Sacraments and to order the life of the church for service in mission and ministry (Book of Discipline of the UMC par.340).” The Word is the Holy Bible. The Word is also Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord based on the gospel of John. In addition to these two understandings of the Word, I believe the Word to be an interpersonal Revelation to believers who have a moment- to-moment personal faith in Christ that involves the spiritual disciplines–especially walking in prayer without ceasing. I preach and teach in conversations to different persons and audiences. I determine their greatest need in conversation. While I understand my vocational calling “to be set apart by God” to communicate persuasively the Christian faith. I am an Evangelical Christian who believes that the promise of the future lies with the whole church being involved in loving service to God and neighbor. But I believe that the words spoken to convey these things come from the Holy Spirit who puts in my mouth (and in the mouths of all Believers) the Word that needs to be spoken.

Sharing the Word or “Passing it on” is not just my job alone. The true disciples who are in a real relationship with Christ are responsible for presenting and promoting (through our witness) the argument for discipleship in Christ. We are all ministers called to preach and teach the seekers, secularists, and the lost children of our loving Father’s desire to be in relationship with them. The mastery of the art of preaching/teaching involves doing this in a way that does not embarrass nor harms the mission of Christ.  The choice to accept or reject the Word is always theirs, but we are bound by an attitude of gratitude to share what we believe is the only smart and real solution to the problem of ongoing, endless sin in our world—the blood of Jesus Christ for the atonement of sin. I try to mix things up and use several different forms of preaching rather than the simple, old-fashioned, three-point sermon style of the 1950’s. I read and study the Holy Scriptures hoping to uncover the discovery of a Gospel truth that I might have overlooked or simply passed over as insignificant in the past readings. I try to push people to think, talk, and do something in response during the week after the sermon. As my father used to say, “Well, if you are going to preach, give them something to think about during the week.”

I try to mix things up and use several different forms of preaching rather than the simple, old-fashioned, three-point sermon style of the 1950’s. I read and study the Holy Scriptures hoping to uncover the discovery of a Gospel truth that I might have overlooked or simply passed over as insignificant in the past readings. I try to push people to think, talk, and do something in response during the week after the sermon. As my father used to say, “Well, if you are going to preach, give them something to think about during the week.”

I hope to someday perfect the art of preaching/teaching the Word. It is my personal goal to make each sermon better than the week before, hoping that you will return to hear the best sermon you have ever heard. But I always begin with the same question, “What is the discovery to be shared and what kind of response is appropriate to expect?” Of the multiple styles of preaching my favorite is illustration/story-telling to make my point. It might evoke emotions of sadness, wonder, humor, or even shock, but it should always be in a way that the message is not overpowered by the memory of the illustration. That is not as easy as it sounds. Especially when it involves visual clips that are as powerful as Mr. Bean falling asleep in church.

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