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giving a sermon vs preaching a sermon – travis black


Do you ever feel like you are “giving a sermon” instead of “preaching a sermon?” The first feels like pushing a sermon off the pulpit and hoping it crawls to people. The latter, though, feels like a fire rising from the pulpit, in which you invite people to huddle around. Do you know what I mean?

This past Sunday, we had an Egyptian leader of the evangelical movement in Cairo light a fire in the pulpit. He is doing a tour here and Australia to raise awareness of what God is doing in the Arab world…you know that place where Christians (and a lot of others) are getting killed or severely harassed. What do you say when that is your life?

“Our God is great!” he proclaimed. He elaborated, working through the Biblical story from Exodus to Jesus, that God is greater than our future, our mistakes, our limited understanding, and the kingdom of darkness. What would our churches look like if we really got a hold of that?

He showed us. He showed pictures where he joined with thousands of Egyptian Christians in Egypt praying that God’s greatness in Christ would ring out in the chaos of the Arab world. In the increasing volume of violent persecution against them, they wanted to increase the volume of praise!

He showed pictures of the hundreds of young people in Egypt he was training to be sent out as missionaries to proclaim the greatness of God in Christ to the Arab world. He is training a generation to give their lives for the glory of Christ.

He gave testimony of God changing the hearts of all types of people from all sorts of religious backgrounds.

What was powerful about his message wasn’t its rhetorical brilliance, though it was well-constructed. It wasn’t his presentation, though he connected with us all. It wasn’t his exceptional exegesis, though the scripture was well-used. It wasn’t even his illustrations, though they were thoughtful and engaging. Why was it powerful? Why did it touched deeply?

He believed it! What he was saying had captured his life.

He wasn’t “giving a sermon.” He was preaching! And to see so clearly the power of someone really preaching helped me to see how it was different from times I have simply “given a sermon.”

Giving a sermon is communicating ideas about the scripture.
He preached a sermon proclaiming what God had spoken to Him as he soaked in the scriptures.

Giving a sermon is trying to help people understand God.
He preached a sermon trying to help people respond to God.

Giving a sermon is fulfilling the job of a pastor.
He preached a sermon that came from living the life of a disciple.

Giving a sermon might encourage church attendance.
He preached a sermon that seeks to encourage crucifixion and resurrection.

Giving a sermon is helping people think, “I can make it through life.”
He preached a sermon that helps people think, “My God is greater than anything I’ll face in life.

Not only did I leave the service with the confidence, “My God is great!” I also left thinking, “I’d like to be a preacher.”

One Comment

  1. Stirring words Travis, I guess for me I have often got up to “give” a sermon but then found that the “preaching” got a hold me anyway, often it is not until we are actually speaking out the truth of God’s goodness that it hits us too.

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