Part VII – Prof. Ben on Preaching
Witherington offers a half-serious top-10 list of advice for preachers.
Perhaps, we will need to come up with a top-10 list for small group Bible Study leaders!
Part V – Ben Witherington on Preaching
In this post, Witherington makes the case that the appearance and demeanor of the preacher matters. Some excerpts:
As the rhetoricians will tell you, you need to establish rapport with your audience at the outset, and if you have some ‘inhibiting’ factors to establishing that positive rapport, then you need to overcome your ethos liabilities.
At a minimum he should be clean and neat. Preferably he should look like what he is about to do actually matters. ‘Casual is as casual does’ Forest Gump might say. But there is nothing casual, off-hand or simple about the Gospel and its proclamation. While I am at it, there is nothing casual about worship.
I am saying we should come looking our best, whatever that is, whether simple attire is the best we have, or formal attire is the best we have. We should give God our best.
Being a small group leader may not be as public and there are fewer eyes on the facilitator, nonetheless, it is important that she/he take that responsibility seriously. Thus, paying some attention to your appearance and demeanor sets a good tone for the group.
Witherington on Preaching, part IV
This of course means good sermon preparation is necessary. Good reading of good resources, good meditation and reflection on the Biblical text, good clarity of expression when you have grasped the meaning of the text, and so on. If your thinking is muddled about a passage, then by all means find another one you can be clear about. Muddled thinking leads to bad exposition and poor sermonizing. The issue is not usually ‘is the text clear’, but rather ‘is the preacher cloudy’ and doesn’t see through his clouds to the clarity in the text.
Though a small group Bible study leader does not have as large an audience as a preacher and as high a level of training as a pastor, the small group Bible study leader should have the same kind of willingness to prepare conscientiously.
Have been following this series of posts by Witherington over at Patheos.
In his latest he makes the following challenge:
The contexts of the Word of God are in many ways very different from ours, and if one reads the Bible without contextual study one will read it anachronistically— reading into the text modern notions, and one’s own opinions and ideas. Frankly God’s Word deserve more respect than that. If it is the most important book in the world for the world’s salvation then it deserves careful and prayerful detailed study of it. It deserves everything we can invest in understanding it and conveying its meaning to others. One of the main things that gets in the way of this whole process is the desire to get to the applications and implications before one has figured out the meaning of the text in the first place. But whether one likes it or not, in order to win the homiletical race one has to commit oneself to the whole race. This means not being tempted to take short cuts to the finish line.
One of the analogies we have used in our training videos is shown below:
The application is the last step at on the top of the cake! It can only stand safely and firmly on a solid foundation of interpretation which comes thorough observations.
Part II – Witherington on Preaching
Witherington observed that the exposition of God’s Word has become thin in many circles:
Usually, in such services if any exposition of God’s Word shows up at all, it is a homilette, not even a full homily. Bible lite– less filling, tastes great.
The problem is only exacerbated if only a tiny minority of the church is involved in things like :1) in depth Bible study in groups (not just alone); and 2) in Sunday school classes where there are good teachers
What do you think? Has that been your experience?
One of the motivating forces behind Center for Chinese Church Studies is to make readily available through the internet some practical educational videos to help train ordinary but committed people to study the Scriptures.
Prof. Ben Witherington on Preaching, part I
Excerpt: ‘Preaching’,it’s what makes so much of the Protestant world go around. It’s what many people go to church to hear— not the singing, not the jingling of coins in the plate, not the appeals of the Sunday school class, or the peals of the church bells, but preaching. This is in some ways odd, as the NT say very little about preaching to the choir, or the already converted. …
Will be keeping an eye on this series of blog post from noted scholar and author Witherington.
In the meantime, be sure to pray for the pastor/preacher at your church!