Michael Brown – Preaching

March 12, 2020

Michael Brown, Retired Elder

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to preaching?
Preaching sermons that are prophetic in the biblical understanding of the word. Many of us preachers are just co-dependent enough that our desire to be honest to our sacred task is often in conflict with our desire to be liked.
 
What is the most rewarding thing?
To know that God chose me to be a preacher. God didn’t need me. Had I said “No,” the very stones could have cried out with just as much effectiveness or more. But, to know that God chose me to be part of this work is humbling and affirming and brings deep meaning to my life.
 
What has changed about preaching over your years of ministry?
The introduction of chancel screens and video clips in sermons. This is challenging in that it could inadvertently turn the preaching event into shallow entertainment. Thus, if used, it must always be so as an educational/illustrative tool but never as that which drives the moment.
 
 Is there a certain “style” of preaching that you often use and why?
I believe that sermons have to do three things: engage, exegete, and apply.  I try to follow that format – Get their attention, explain the text and its context, and bridge the gap between the world of the Bible and the world of the listener (which I seek to do most often by the use of stories).
 
What counsel would you offer those who preach?
Prepare diligently. Pray. Study. Write. Then edit and prepare some more, aiming at exegetical authenticity and clarity of oral communication. After that, keep preparing in order to make a journey from “clarity” to “compelling.”  If you wait till Saturday to get started on the sermon, just forget about preaching and settle for a hymn-sing.
 
Do you have any resources, experiences, or books you would recommend?
I’ve never read anything by Fred Craddock, Barbara Brown Taylor, or Frederick Beuchner that did not inform and inspire me as a preacher. Luke Powery has some very strong books in print that can enhance anyone’s understanding of the art of Preaching and the practice of the craft. I also enjoy reading sermons from past masters to determine how they journeyed through text and topic to open up faith in some new or helpful way to their listeners. The ones who received acclaim were obviously doing something right. I grow when I try to find out what that something was and how to translate it into this present age.
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