Sunday, July 10, 2011

History of Preaching (3)

My reflections on vacation reading have been (inevitably) disturbed by the pace of life reasserting itself. Several other summary issues interested me but let me mention one more in particular. O.C. Edwards says that, looking back over 2000 years of preaching "one of the few sweeping generalizations I can make about preaching through the ages that, with rare exceptions, the most effective preachers have not preached from manuscripts"(page 836).

My students early in each course discover that I insist they preach without notes. They should so "live in" the Scripture passage that the delivery of their sermons "lives out" its message today. So preaching comes from within them, out of the "heart," as urgent truth that matters. Now, this is not to be confused with extempore "winging" a message. Actually, it takes more time to internalize a message that is preached without notes. And this is not suggested as some technique that guarantees effectiveness. Remember my last post - a good mind, rhetorical reflex and personal holiness are essentials. But how interesting that Edwards should say that preaching without a manuscript is one of the few sweeping generalizations his study reveals. This is ammunition for my future classes!

Though other projects now claim my attention, I know this summer reading will surface again as I prepare two new lectures in the Fall (for Evangelical Seminary, Myerstown, Penn). This week I was given the theme for my lectures - "New Directions in Preaching." Aha! What an opportunity to reflect on the present in the light of the recent past. O.C. Edwards calls these last four decades "a crisis in communication"! Closer to the event I shall post some blogs. Thanks for sharing a little in my "history project."

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