How to Preach Like John Grisham Writes

During a recent vacation, my wife and I ventured across town to another church. The jammed parking lot and crowded lobby suggested a scintillating sermon. The preacher was articulate and entertaining. His sermon was biblical, with four crafted principles from the text.

But as we left that morning, I realized, as William Willimon has said, I got the sermon, but it didn't get me.

Fast-forward to a couple of days later, same vacation: Sitting under a thatched umbrella on a beach, I'm reading John Grisham's The Chamber, a novel about capital punishment.

Toward the end of the story, Grisham describes Sam Cayhall, the death-row inmate, taking off the clothes he has worn for so many years. His new clothes lying on the bed are for his execution in the gas chamber. The portrayal overwhelmed me, and I began to weep. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I silently asked the Lord to forgive me for my past hatred of death-row inmates.

It struck me that Grisham's novel had "got" me in a way ...

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