It is OK to be Interesting

There is a sense out there, that it is somehow unfaithful for a preacher to work at being interesting. The thought seems to be that faithful preachers give their attention solely to the Word and not to any other feature that might actually be helpful to the listener in their desire to hear. You will forgive me if sound a little cynical, but I am just coming off listening to two consecutive sermons that were each 90 minutes of running commentary on the Scripture. The preacher was truthful, but he was hard to hear.blackpreacher

I believe that it is the crying need of every human to hear the Word of God. The Word is our source of truth and that ought to be enough. The Word requires nothing beyond itself to transform those who hear it. The Word is the Word. It is sufficient in itself.

But this does not mean that there is anything unworthy or unholy about a preacher who works to help the listener hear. Consider the fact that we are called to preach at all. Somehow, the Lord considered it of value for a human preacher to bring his or her humanity to the task, helping people to hear by the explanation, exhortation, and endorsement of a preacher. I consider this to be one of the most wonderful aspects of God’s grace.

The divine and human nature of preaching is a beautiful mystery. We know that God does not need us. The Word is not deepened or improved by our expressions of it. Still, God not only tolerates our representations of his Word, he requires them. In the same spirit as the incarnation, preaching puts flesh to the Word. Our expression of the Word helps humans to appropriate its message. As human preachers, we bring our stories, our word pictures, and our turns of phrase, employing all these things in the service of the Word’s own intention.

Preachers are compelled to bring their best to the task. That means we bring our insight, our creativity, and our artistry, such that the Word is made compelling to those others like us who have gathered with us to hear. Our work in preaching does not preclude or disempower the work that God himself is doing in the task. God is pleased to protect his Word as his servants preach it.

It goes without saying that creative and compelling preaching is easier to hear. If such preaching faithfully presents the intention of the Word, this will help the people hear. It is in the very nature of what we are called to do.