Preaching With Passion

Preaching With Passion

I’m taking a turn after considering preaching about the family in the past few posts, and we’re going to consider the topic of preaching with passion in your ministry.  I’m turning to this subject right now because I’m becoming aware of how desperately we need people to preach with passion.  Too much preaching, some observers are saying, reflects something other than passion.  So, in the next posts we will consider the vital importance of preaching with passion in your setting.

What Happened To The Passion?

I listen to sermons and church services as a kind of pastime.  I also read a great deal about preaching because of my teaching responsibilities at Christian Leaders Institute and because of this blog.  Based on those experiences, I can say that much preaching today lacks passion.   And that makes me wonder what happened?  How can we take the Good News and turn it into something that has the power to put people to sleep?

There’s a great old story about a pastor who noticed that one of the older people in the congregation had fallen asleep during the sermon.  So, he said to the man’s grandson, sitting next to him, “Would you please wake up your grandpa?”  The boy was a bit snarky, and replied, “Why don’t you wake him up.  You’re the one who put him to sleep.”

The Reasons for Lack of Passion

There is no excuse for standing before people with the message about Jesus Christ and not being passionate.  Yet, that is where many preachers end up.  Why?  Alex Montoya, pastor and preaching professor, cites several possible explanations in his book, Preaching With Passion.   Here’s his list:

  • Imitation of seminary lecturers
  • Intellectualism
  • Inexperience in life
  • Inhibited personality
  • Ignorance of one’s audience.

The Necessity Of Preaching With Passion

W.A. Criswell was a well-known preacher from a previous generation, and he wrote a wonderful exhortation about passion.  He said,

“The sermon is no essay to be read for optional opinion, for people to casually consider.  It is a confrontation with Almighty God.  It is to be delivered with a burning passion, in the authority of the Holy Spirit.”  (Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors, p. 58).

He also wrote in the same book,

“You cannot read the New Testament without sensing that the preachers were electrified by the power of the Gospel and swept off their feet by the wonder of the great revelation which had been committed to their trust.  There is something wrong if a man charged with the greatest news in the world can be listless and rigid and dull.  Who is going to believe that the glad tidings brought by the preacher means literally more than anything else on earth if they are present with no verve or fire or attack, and if the man himself is apathetic, uninspired, afflicted with spiritual coma in unsaying by his attitude what he says in words?” (page 54)

The Possibility of Passionate Preaching

I’m thinking of two things as I begin this series of posts.  First of all, the words of an older mentor who helped me understand preaching.  I worked with him for a summer in a small church in Arizona.  The first time he heard me preach, his evaluation was less than stellar.  He said, “Everything you said was right.”  In other words, I got all the theology right, and I got all the explanation of the significance of the Bible story that my sermon was based on right.  However, to. his mind, that wasn’t enough.  He went on: “But after the first couple of minutes no one was listening.”  That was a learning moment for me.

A second thing I have in mind is a message I listened to a few weeks ago.  Everything the pastor said was right.  His theology was accurate.  He was true to the Bible passage.  But I found my mind wandering.  It lacked passion.

So let’s explore how to add passion to our preaching in the coming posts.