How to Preach Real, Relevant, Relational and Revolutionary Sermons
Why I Lie
It is not completely honest for preachers to think they are being themselves while preaching. I can not think this it is just me up in front of the congregation, just talking about the bible, like I would in a bible study or a personal conversation. A bible study or conversation seeks to do different things than a sermon. A sermon is part of a service of worship. It is worship. And worship is not a classroom, a lecture hall, living room or the pastor’s study.
Preaching must be worship and worship is the people coming before God, not the preacher coming before the people. A sermon must be the people coming before god. Encountering god in the text. The text always points to god, is about god. It is about pointing to Jesus in a way that we might all look in that direction and see god reveling god’s self in Jesus the Christ.
So this demands a different kind of speech, speech that seeks revelation and demands a different kind of speaker.
A preacher cannot think she is being unselfconscious in her delivery.
In liturgical traditions vestments are used to make this point. The preacher dons them to say I am not Pastor Doug or Rev. Debbie, I am a Priest. I am the facilitator of this worship of god. I am the Preacher.
For so long I tried to be sincere in my preaching, to make sure that I was not putting on airs or playing a part, but to be the authentic me, talking, really talking in a real way to the congregation. To talk just as I would to a friend.
Why did it take me so long to realize what a lie it was? I am not me when I am preaching. No matter what I tell myself. No speaker is. The situation precludes it. I am not just talking to a friend; I am preaching a sermon to a congregation. It is a specific occasion with particular exceptions on the part of both the hearer and the Preacher.
Why did it take me so long to realize what an unhelpful strategy it is to try and be myself.
If it is truly not possible to be my self while being the preacher then why not spend as much time figuring out who I should be for a particular sermon as I was would worrying about trying to be the authentic me.
So I lie.
In truth I am not really lying. I am acting, embodying, telling a story—I am preaching a sermon. I am not lying unless I think I am really being me.