“Do it from the heart, or don’t do it at all” Tope Koleoso
I don’t ever shout for effect, for preaching is not acting. I shout because I mount the pulpit to preach with three overriding emotions bubbling up in my soul – Anger, Joy and Love. These three however, have an effect on how I preach.
When I have prepared well, I know the text and the structure of my sermon, but it doesn’t mean that I am ready to preach. It just means that I have a mental understanding of what the text says. Good preaching however, is not just about the science of exegesis. That is too easy and cheap and even a non Christian can probably do a good job of that.
No. Good preaching happens when the Holy Spirit moves the heart of the preacher by the text, the preachers experience, and the “now” Word of God to his soul. All of these move me at an emotional and spiritual level. Emotional because my heart is involved. Spiritual because the Holy Spirit is involved.This means that during the sermon, any one of the mentioned emotions, (Anger, Joy or Love), spill out without warning or apology. This is because when I am preaching, I am angry at satan and sin, I am joyful about salvation and hope, and I am eager to show the Love of God to the lost.Therefore, I shout, I laugh, I cry, and I dance. Therefore, I use my voice, my hands, my legs and my eyes. Therefore, I will do it with utter conviction and passion for if I will not do it from the heart, I will not do it at all. Therefore, I engage the crowd, the best I can for I will not be ignored seeing that I carry the greatest message the world has ever heard. Therefore, I will be even more undignified for I do it all to the glory of God. Therefore I will be careful and calm lest I become the message and distract from the cross and by so doing, sin against the Lord I love.
I have been entrusted with the gospel. I do not “have it”, it has me. It has grabbed me by the throat and now I will only speak what it demands. It has my mind, so I will think of the gospel alone. It has me by the lungs, so I breathe and live for Him alone.One day, this mortal body will die and be rendered useless. Until then, I will preach loudly, and softly and deliberately, and carefully, and lovingly, and angrily, and demonstratively, and powerfully until the prodigal comes back home, and the lost is saved, and the glory of God cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.SOME HELPFUL QUALIFIERS1. Shouting alone does not accomplish anything by itself. It is just noise. There must be something to shout about and a context to shout in.2. Let the display of emotions be true to yourself for preaching is NOT acting.3. Let it be rightly calibrated for the people so that it is engaging.Whitfield said of John Bunyan and Pilgrims Progress: “The book pilgrims progress smells of prison”. The point he was making was that Bunyan’s suffering comes through in the book.Piper says, the reason the puritans are still read today is because they lived their lives on the precipice of eternity, alive today but perhaps dead tomorrow. When you write out of that experience of life, your experience shapes your preaching. Whitfield said, we all write better when we are under the Cross.