Preach the Word (PTW), a program of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) designed to foster excellence in preaching, has released its eighth module: “Preaching Law and Gospel Textually.”
The module features the Rev. Dr. Steven P. Mueller, chief mission officer, professor of Theology and dean of Christ College at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., teaching an approach to the preaching of Law and Gospel that is anchored in the themes, metaphors and images of the text.
According to the study guide that accompanies the module, “This module … explores the rich diversity of Law-Gospel images in the Bible and encourages experienced preachers to dig further — every week — so that the Law is applied directly and specifically with full sternness to their people each Sunday and then salved with the equally specific, fully sweet, Gospel of Christ crucified.”
The introduction continues, “Let’s face it: delivering this message week after week is hard work. But we can learn a lot from each other as we consider how to proclaim Law and Gospel effectively in specific ways that flow from the biblical text on which we are preaching.”
PTW is a voluntary program for LCMS pastors who want to improve their preaching. Participants typically work together in groups of three, known as “triads,” viewing and discussing video training modules on topics related to preaching.
They then individually apply what they have learned to their own preaching, videotaping themselves as they deliver sermons to their own congregations. Later, they share the videos with the others in their group for analysis and conversation.
Module 8 of PTW is divided into three phases. Phase 1 notes that, “in addition to the heart of preaching, there is also the art. The art of preaching attends to those things that, while not necessary, are helpful for preachers and for the people who hear God’s Word. This section, therefore, also considers how preaching the Law and Gospel textually relates to the art of preaching.”
Phase 2 asks the pastor to preach a sermon using what was learned in Phase 1. Phase 2 includes a Bible study on Law and Gospel for members of the congregation to complete before listening to and discussing the sermon with the pastor and each other.
Phase 3 provides a guide for the pastors in the triad to use as they view and discuss each other’s sermons.
In the introductory video to Module 8, Mueller notes that the doctrines of Law and Gospel “guide us in applying the Word of God to people in ways that powerfully connect, help them to see their spiritual condition, and receive the precious gifts of life and salvation through the work of Jesus Christ for them.” He continues, “If we always say it the same way, will our listeners tune out? … In this module, we … challenge ourselves to proclaim that changeless Gospel in fresh, creative ways each week.”
The Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher II, chairman of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, and director of Pastoral Formation at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, leads the PTW program for the LCMS. Fickenscher said, “Folks might recall that Preach the Word is a continuation of our Synod’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Preaching was so crucial to the Reformation! Luther often emphasized that preaching is the primary way God works in the world, and for each of us pastors to grow in our preaching honors that Reformation heritage in a way few other activities could.”
Find out more and access all modules of Preach the Word at lcms.org/preach-the-word.
Posted Nov. 25, 2019