Beginning in this issue and continuing hereafter in the first issue of every month, CHRISTIANITY TODAYwill feature The Minister’s Workshop, dedicated to helping the clergy in sermon preparation. This section will alternate essays by Dr. Andrew W. Blackwood, dean of American homileticians and professor emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary, and Dr. Paul S. Rees, whose World Vision ministry to Christian workers has reached around the Free World. The feature will include abridgments of expository-topical sermons, outlines of significant sermons preached by leading ministers, and notable quotations (sometimes quotable) from the secular and religious press.—ED.

Sometime ago a writer in the Christian Herald contended that the minister’s 20-minute talk on the Lord’s Day is futile. This isn’t a day when people listen closely to pulpit discourses. The sermon could be scrapped, he suggested wryly, without doing any great damage to the Sunday worship service.

No one would be so foolhardy as to say that sermons are popular in these times, nor that some sermons would find an unhappy ending in File 13. However, the unpopularity of the sermon as such is not confined to our day. “Preaching has become a byword for long and dull conversation of any kind; and whoever wishes to imply, in any piece of writing, the absence of everything agreeable and inviting, calls it a sermon,” said Sidney Smith more than a century ago.

It might be rather distressing for a clergyman to consider that the word “preacher” appears but four times in the New Testament (King James Version); and in some versions and translations it appears less often. The word “sermon” does not occur in Sacred Writ. Yet, the primary business of the minister is preaching. In fact ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.