My homiletics professors probably won’t believe this but I just got invited to a conference on the book of Psalms to “preach for preachers.” I never thought that would happen and I’m pretty sure my homiletics professors didn’t either.
Very Suited for the Role of Teacher
I have two stories to tell about my homiletics classes.
I remember very clearly finishing my sermon on Genesis 1 and sitting down to listen to the comments of my classmates. They were nice. Dr. Olson was even nicer–they didn’t call him Dr. Love for nothin’.
He said to me, “Todd, what kind of ministry are you hoping to do when you finish your MDiv.?”
“I’m planning on going to Slovakia to teach at seminary,” I replied.
My reply seemed very pleasing to him. “Oh, that’s great,” he enthused. “It’s obvious you’re very suited for the role of teacher.”
He did not say, “and not for the role of preacher” but I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant.
Dr. Olson gave me an A for preaching but another homiletics course was my only B during the entire MDiv. I’m not complaining, I think that B was closer to the actual deserved grade for all my homiletics classes.
Always the encourager, that Dr. Olson.
Homiletics for Wives
That brings me to the second story. I think it was that same semester. Jana took an evening class called “Homiletics for Wives.” The idea is that the wives are supposed to experience what their husbands go through when they prepare and deliver a sermon. After Jana delivered her sermon Dr. Olson gave her high praise. He said to her, tell Todd you did very well.” He didn’t say it but I’m pretty sure he meant, “You’re a much better preacher than he is.”
At that point, I knew I would never be a great preacher but I made it my goal to do my best to become at least a respectable preacher. After all, if I’m going to teach at a seminary most people will think I’m supposed to be a good preacher. It’s part of my job, right?
The Greatest Preacher Alive on the Face of the Earth Today
During the PhD program we had the chance to attend the Village Church of Lincolnshire and sit under the preaching of Lee Eclov. That link will take you to VCL’s sermon archive. If you’re like me, you don’t listen to sermons except on Sunday. Still, you should listen to this sermon, one of the greatest sermons I’ve ever heard. It’s called “The Agony of Victory.”
I suppose the title of this section is too hyperbolic but it’s no stretch to say that I learned a lot from Pastor Lee. I often left church on Sunday moved by the word of God. It’s actually hard to put into words just what an effect good preaching can have on you. It’s almost like it grabs hold of you and transports you into the presence of God with all the experience of awe and fear that comes with it.
After hearing him preach I suddenly learned to quit focusing on the proper homiletic outline and focus instead on being more creative and expressive.
That helped me a lot. In fact, while I still don’t ever expect to be a great preacher, I think I’ve already attained my goal of being passable, maybe even respectable.
Not only that but I enjoy the privilege of preaching God’s word and I have become more and more convinced of how important that Sunday morning message is.
Preaching to Preachers
Preaching God’s word is a huge responsibility. It’s part of what anchors our congregations to the will of the Lord and creates a culture of wisdom based on the authority of God’s revelation. I think we often both underestimate the task of preaching (because we don’t realize how important it is for shaping that culture of being centered on God’s revelation) and overestimate it (because we think it doesn’t work if people don’t walk out different creatures after hearing a sermon).
I’m committed to preaching so it was a great privilege to be invited to be one of two preachers at this year’s conference “We Have a Proclamation” (Máme, čo zvestovať). I preached on Psalm 89, the psalm that stands at the turning point of the book of Psalms. The sermon was entitled, “Where is God?”