AM ’09: Good preaching, doable by every preacher, requires foundations, preaching prof says

LUBBOCK?”What we are after is life transformation; we’re not just giving information,” David Allen told those attending one of several “Ministry Café” luncheon sessions during the SBTC Bible Conference Oct. 26 in Lubbock.

Allen’s breakout session on expository preaching offered seven foundations for effective sermons and a list of steps for sermon preparation.

Dean of the theology school and professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Allen told the gathering he believes every preacher is capable of doing great preaching. Noting that believers will not know who the truly great preachers are until eternity reveals it, preachers should be intent on delivering “great content wedded to passion.”

Effective sermons, he said, are built on seven foundations: interpretation; translation; organization; communication; passion; persuasion; and transformation.

First, the preacher must properly grasp the passage he is preaching. “A mist in the mind of the preacher will mean a fog in the pew,” Allen noted. “You can’t communicate a meaning you don’t know.”

Second, translation means transferring the meaning to the audience in terms and contexts they understand.

Third, organization should include exposition, illustration, application, imagination, argumentation, motivation and exhortation. “Good preaching makes use of good illustrations,” but don’t over-illustrate, Allen pleaded. “Good preaching turns the ear into an eye.”

Good preaching must also communicate using substantive content and also style, Allen said, citing a definition from Phillips Brooks that biblical preaching is “truth communicated through personality.”

Further, passion is necessary but cannot be manufactured; it must well up from a well-prepared, prayer-bathed sermon. “Let me put it this way: People can tell when your heart’s not in it,” Allen said. “People have a built-in bunk meter.”

Preaching with persuasion involves preaching as if arguing a case before a jury because “we are still the means God uses to draw people to Christ.”

And finally, preach for life transformation?the end to which preaching is aimed, Allen said.

In a question-and-answer time, Allen said the verbal delivery of preaching must be primary and the use of visual media must always be subservient to the preaching of the text. Emphasizing that he is not against props or video to aid the preacher, “if you allow the visual to overpower the verbal, that is contrary to the Word of God.”

“If you can’t preach without all the visual media and props, you will never be able to preach with them,” Allen said.

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