Doctrine-Aware Sermons: Preaching Doctrinally-Informed And Relationally-Connected Messages -- By: J. Brian Tucker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 11:1 (Spring 2007)
Article: Doctrine-Aware Sermons: Preaching Doctrinally-Informed And Relationally-Connected Messages
Author: J. Brian Tucker


Doctrine-Aware Sermons: Preaching Doctrinally-Informed And Relationally-Connected Messages

J. Brian Tucker

Assistant Professor of New Testament

Michigan Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan

Introduction

This article proposes a homiletic approach which emphasizes the centrality of exegetical rigor and proportionate audience analysis while encouraging pastors to re-vision theology so that they communicate correctly and effectively. The article will use the concept of the abstraction ladder to assist pastors in effectively illustrating and applying the message while finally mining various homiletic approaches for effective communication insights.

Doctrine-Aware Sermons: Exegeting the Text and the Audience

Doctrine-aware preaching focuses the audience on the Scriptures and fills the sermon with relevant application and thoroughly biblical content. This homiletic approach involves more than the usual sightseeing escapades into the biblical text; it is a serious investigation of the primary source for the Christlike life. Here preaching finds that which is authentic, the origins of the modern disillusionment with life, and the practice of authentic Christianity.

Doctrine-aware preaching fully considers the impact of postmodern culture while realizing those within the church may not be influenced by that culture in the same way as those outside the church. It seeks not to alienate one while reaching the other. It becomes a both/and approach to homiletics instead of an either/or approach. This approach continually keeps the two horizons of text and audience in view.

Exegeting the Audience

Exegeting the audience serves as a conceptual metaphor for this article. Just as there are steps to follow to exegete properly the biblical material, there is a process to follow that can assist in properly ascertaining the effective communication locus for a congregation. This involves assessments, interviews, and various ethnographic methods. Wayne McDill provides this timely reminder: “An effort to understand your audience and connect with their interests must never compromise the biblical message. Audience analysis and adaptation is part of your communication strategy. But it must not be allowed to corrupt sound theology.”1

Pastors need to identify the particular groups within their audience. Authors such as Rick Ezell2 and Keith Willhite3 provide excellent sources on basic demographic surveys for this purpose. ...

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