President Kieschnick’s article is most timely and very necessary. A good sermon should be the high point of our service and be “powerful preaching of Law and Gospel.” Unfortunately, this [type of sermon] is lacking in far too many of our churches. Having been fed a sermon series for years (“Expresso Yourselves” or “The Grinch, Enlarge My Heart”), many in the pew do not have a clue about Law and Gospel preaching and accept the aforementioned series as the norm for LCMS churches. These sermon series—some from the internet—are products of Presbyterian, Baptist, non-denominational, and other churches to whose preachers Law-Gospel preaching is foreign. This could be thought of as the “dumbing down of Lutheranism”.
Could this be the reason some pastors wish to remove the word Lutheran from the name of their church?
I agree with President Kieschnick that some LCMS pastors could improve their preaching—but for slightly different reasons. Sermons, regardless of content, read in a monotone voice with minimal congregational eye contact are rarely inspirational or memorable. In fact, sermons that are read rather than delivered, hardly ever keep one’s attention. I implore all pastors to leave out jokes and personal stories while preaching. I come to church to focus on the sacred and not to be entertained by stories of the pastor’s childhood. The PowerPoint presentations and other props or “enhancements” are usually distracting rather than edifying and often are trite and sometimes insulting. Please do not chide me to write a specific word in a specific blank on the sermon outline. I am not in the sixth grade.
Good preaching is always about the Scripture, is theologically sound, and thought provoking. My experience is that older, more seasoned ministers are better preachers. They seem less likely to “dumb down” their sermons with non-spiritual trivia. Perhaps the seminary should give more attention to the actual ability of potential ministers to construct and deliver a relevant spiritual message rather than provide entertainment from the pulpit.
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