I still remember my first sermon as a pastor. In a fit of homiletical hubris that every seminarian will recognize, I decided to impress my new congregation with my first sermon by unlocking the mysteries of the Minor Prophets. As I prepared that week, I became convinced that this could well be the most important sermon I would ever preach. If we were to grasp the holiness of God as presented by Hosea, our lives and our church would never be the same. I preached that message with passion and expectancy. But when I looked out over the congregation the next Sunday, we were pretty much the same crowd as the week before.
There isn't a preacher alive who isn't at once both energized and dismayed by the sermon's potential to effect change. Why aren't people more deeply transformed by their weekly encounters with God's Word? The deficiency can't be with the Scriptures, obviously. And most of us manage to communicate biblical truth with a measure of clarity, relevance, and ...1