SERMONS FOR HEAD AND HEART

Effective preaching feeds both the mind and the emotions.

Effective preaching feeds both the mind and the emotions.

Like most seminarians of my era, I was taught an essentially intellectual approach to preaching: analyze a passage and deliver the fruit of your study. I remember my professor of pastoral theology, a man whom I still hold in highest regard, telling us, "One should never use a personal illustration, because it can make the sermon too emotional and the minister too much a part of the sermon: 'I, I, I.'"

For seven or eight years into my preaching ministry, I never used personal illustrations. But slowly I began to see that honest emotion is part of life, that the most powerful sermons always give people both something to think about and something to feel.

I'd been warned that appealing to the emotions would lead to manipulative preaching. But I found preaching that ignores emotion also has its dangers. If you do nothing in sermons but give information, if you don't move people, they become Pharisees. They sit back and have all the facts, ...

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