LECTURE 14 ON SERMON PREPARATION Style

Your style should project that you are in the highest calling that it is possible for a man to experience. Your style should reveal that you understand that you are in the hardest work on earth. You deal with sin, sickness, sorrow, and brokenness. You should be understanding and sympathetic. Your style should also reveal your addiction to holiness. This is not the holiness of “better than thou,” but the dedication to a better life for those who are worldly and weak and also those who are self-righteous. Lastly your style should reveal that you are truly joyous in the service of the Lord.

According to Broadus style is the characteristic way of expression in speech and writing. This may be good or bad because it is an expression of the personality, education, thought patterns, but one should be aware of his tendencies. Classes and workshops are good opportunities to get feedback on thee things. Broadus suggests that one major problem is excessive vehemence and a constant effort to be impressive. Thus E-mails with bold sections, exclamation marks, and capitals. Emphasis is good, but not if it is over-used. The first quality of good style is proper grammar and pronunciation. Supposing you have a reasonably educated audience, you must pay attention to these things or people will be turned off. On the other hand different situations may require different styles both in the short and long run. A Collegiate Pastor has to be different from a country Pastor.

The biggest problem we face is allowing the style to be dictated by personal dispositions. He lists several styles which can be, on occasion right or wrong. They are: spacious, polished, fine flowery, and conversational. I would say two things about this. First of all, there may be points in a single sermon where different styles are dictated. Secondly, the extremes are classroom lecture style and conversational style. The former goes over the head of the audience and the latter may not do justice to the importance of the prophetic office. In fact neither of those approaches honors the prophetic office because preaching is not teaching and preaching is not casual. Broadus lists three essentials: Clarity, energy, and elegance. The attainment of these characteristics is achieved by clear thinking, a clear subject and a clear plan. Broadus advises short sentences to aid understanding. This prompted me to look at the Book of Acts in order to compare Paul’s preaching with his writing. Now Paul is famous for writing long involved sentences, but you can observe that in his preaching he does not do that. I would like to investigate this issue further when I have time. He also suggests that we use plain words. Here comes the thesaurus again. Find the exact words. The irony is that those who have a superior education in English grammar and vocabulary are the most likely to use the thesaurus to improve their presentations, but it is those who lack the background who are least likely to try to refine their speech and vary their vocabulary. Mispronunciations are anathema, so please use a good dictionary when in doubt. Avoid vain repetition. I have listened to one well-known preacher on TV who repeats a catch phrase dozens of times during his messages every week, “Listen to this.” Now if that phrase was used only once in a while at important points, it might make you listen, but the way he uses it is meaningless.