Common Myths about Preaching
January 14, 2013 1 Comment
In the Anglican Journal:
Myths abound in our culture. The field of homiletics is no exception. Everyone who goes to church regularly has benefited from thousands of hours of sermon preparation. But we are also the recipients of a number of common misconceptions that greatly reduce the power of all those hours of Sunday morning preaching. Consider these six myths.
The first myth: sermons are largely irrelevant in today’s world. Many pastors have been heard to say, “I don’t know what I preached on last Sunday. How is anyone else supposed to remember?” The implication is that preaching has little more value than a pep talk. Fortunately, this is not the experience of many people. I have done surveys of sermon recall following dynamic deliveries. Ninety per cent of those in attendance remembered the basic message after one week, and fifty per cent after six weeks. Some people even speak of homilies from years ago that blessed them with exactly what they needed at that time. Clergy and lay people need to know that when parishioners come back week after week, it is because they experience many sermons as vehicles of blessing for personal growth in faith and life.
The second myth is particularly applicable for Anglicans. William Vaughan Jenkins and Heather Kayan published a fascinating piece of homiletic research, “Sermon Responses and Preferences in Pentecostal and Mainline churches, in the Journal of Empirical Theology.
Three conclusions from their research stand out. First, “The data showed that Anglicans desired significant intellectual content…compared to Pentecostal members.” Second, “Participants from both churches responded to sermons in a predominantly emotional way.” Third, members of “both churches wanted to hear sermons on grace and forgiveness” above all other topics. Despite our preference for cognitive material, we clearly judge sermons by their emotional appeal, and prefer homilies on personal faith issues. It is a myth that the sermon must be aimed at people’s heads rather than equally at the mind and the heart…
Read on here.