Monday, September 17, 2007

Affective Preaching

Random question - why are conservative evangelicals so afraid of affective preaching?

(By affective preaching, I mean preaching where the preacher displays strong excitement or sadness or pain or something. Preaching which engages the emotions as well as the mind and not just through the mind. Preaching that is designed to move people. And I don't mean acted stuff - that's rubbish.)

Is it that we're scared of emotions? Or scared of using other people's? But surely there's an important balance - if we're preaching through something that is really really tragic and where we have to understand something of the depth of the sadness to understand the passage (as Psalm 137), shouldn't we be willing to take them there?

I heard a sermon on Psalm 137 last night. It was good, and very well applied (I think that's the most difficult bit with that passage) but I think it would have been better if we'd gone with the Israelites and seen more of their grief to get inside what they were feeling.


Anonymous said...

Showing emotion is what those charismatics do. We wouldn't want to be like them, would we? Think of all that dodgy unsound teaching about spiritual gifts that they give!

More seriously, strong emotions can be used as a substitute for sound arguments when trying to persuade someone of something. As such, I think there's a tendency to be overly wary of them, in order to make sure that sermons are always properly reasoned out.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. In my church I have sat through sermons that have been delivered in equal pace, with tightly-controlled tone of voice and in a (quite deliberately) self-controlled manner - and yet they do dis-service to the passage because they are not communicating the heart as well as the head (cf. Psalm 100). How can psalm 139 be preached without communicating a lament that is equal to the subject matter of the passage? Can you analyse grief so cooly?

This is a big lesson that evangelical preachers need to learn...