Like many young pastors, I spent my early years of ministry torturing audiences through endless experiments with my preaching. I had been to seminary, listened to hundreds of sermons, read plenty of books, and learned about expository, topical, Christ-centered, and Spirit-empowered preaching. I knew about the need for both study and unction. When I entered the academy, I reiterated these same lessons in my preaching courses. And yet, inwardly, I knew there remained a wide chasm for me between mastering the mechanics of crafting sermons and truly serving as a translator between God and his church. As John Koessler writes in Folly, Grace, and Power, “Those who preach break God’s silence.” Most weeks, I was just trying to make it until next Monday.
The first sermon I preached was at the fledgling church plant I helped launch in a bar. In this context, my preaching moved from the theoretical banter of a classroom to the anxiety-inducing reality of standing before people who ...1