Vol.XII No.IV Pg.5
June 1975

The Curse Of Preaching

Robert F. Turner

An unabridged dictionary will give you my reasons for the subject. While acknowledging to make known, proclaim, announce publicly, Websters also has, to discourse in the manner of a preacher; — now usually with implications of officiousness or tediousness. To utter in a sermon or a formal religious harangue. (If you are in doubt check that word in the dictionary.) Webster also has, as an example of one meaning for preach, to preach (one) asleep. This is the connotation or reputation preaching has earned from the suffering public.

Dont quote me preaching is foolishness to those that perish. The kind of preaching I have in mind is foolishness to the saved as well. Why does a grown man, reasonably intelligent, capable of meaningful communication in other circumstances, feel that when he mounts the podium he must rant and rave? (Look those up.) As one fellow said, That young man wanted to preach in the worst way — and he did, too. The man who has to get in a weaving way to teach Gods truth may produce a few gems that are noteworthy, but they are usually hidden in a clutter of half sentences and trash that distract the listener. A taped record, transcribed, will often embarrass the best of speakers.

The changed officious voice may be a cover up for nervousness, a substitute for something worth saying, or what we think is expected of a public speaker. These are bad enough. Let us hope it is never an indication of pompous egoism, as it sounds. One may sufficiently increase volume simply by speaking to the back seats. Repetition that is organized: at reasonable intervals, tying parts of the speech into a whole or making summations, are very useful. But they should not be used as filler while the speaker tries to think of his next point. Much harangue results from our thinking we must always be saying something — we fear the sound of silence. Try using a more complete outline or making better preparation. A good sound point doesnt need much laboring. But the strength in what you say and how the scriptures prove it; and the need (?) for stomping, leering at the public, or filling the air with trite and canned phrases will be lifted. One need not say our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every time he wants to say Christ. Nor is such verbiage a sign of piety or scriptural learning. (May as well expect some letters about that.)

All preachers get rattled at times (I hope) and make a mess of a sermon. (Its a terrible feeling to know you are doing it, and yet be incapable of correction. You would like to sink right into the floor.) Preparation, experience, and more preparation will cure most of this. Critical brethren need to try walking in our shoes before becoming too harsh. But we are responsible for the odium attached to preaching and we must, by positive action, cure it.

This is no sanction of dry, pedantic sermons. Pray earnestly for Gods help, and then give it all youve got! Let the richness of His truth and our sincere hunger for souls send forth a fire that will burn deeply into the listeners heart.