THE TUNES OF PREACHING

Words and moods can either make toes tap or set teeth on edge.

Everyone knows a sermon has points, but not everyone knows a sermon also has a tune.

I applied the word tune to preaching a few years ago when I began to wonder, Why do I especially like certain sermons? What makes certain ones really work? There was some important ingredient in effective sermons that went beyond the normal considerations of content. That ingredient, I realized, was the tune.

A sermon's tune-its mood or spirit-is not easy to define precisely, but it's unmistakable. Hearing some sermons, I think of seventy-six trombones coming down Main Street. Other messages make me picture a violin and a crust of bread.

We don't often think of the tune we'll play when we're preparing a sermon, because our preparation tends to focus on the content. But afterward, when we evaluate how we spoke it and how people responded to it, then we recall the tune: the subtle atmosphere that was projected, the mood that filled the sanctuary as the sermon was preached.

Complicating matters is that not just ...

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

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
WHY BOARD TRAINING GOES AWRY
WHY BOARD TRAINING GOES AWRY
From the Magazine
Replanting Can Work. A Church Just Has to Die and Rise Again.
Replanting Can Work. A Church Just Has to Die and Rise Again.
How one East Tennessee congregation took a leap of faith and witnessed a resurrection.
Editor's Pick
Should We Still Be Called ‘Evangelicals’?
Speaking Out
Should We Still Be Called ‘Evangelicals’?
Maybe there's a better name in our polarized and politicized times.
close