Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Five Elements of Inspirational Preaching

...............................................................When people talk about preachers, often the presumption is that they specialize in inspiration. And many times (in my experience) that is denigrated. "Oh, that was an just an inspirational sermon...really no meat there." "Oh there was lots of warm and fuzzy feel good inspiration, but he/she never really told us what we should DO about it."

Maybe it was the time period in which I was formed, perhaps it was the churches in which I was raised, but KNOWING the Bible was paramount. To KNOW was the key. The Holy Spirit only legitimately spoke through the Word of God and so knowing the Word was huge. (and while I still affirm the second, I would rephrase the first--the Word is the PRIMARY way the Holy Spirit speaks but not the only way.).

And I have always tried to allow the Holy Spirit to be the one providing the inspiration. Emotional manipulation is anathema to me. I still believe that the Word preached will lead to inspiration.

But what is inspiration? Is it helping people to "dream the impossible dream"? Is it pushing people to "march off the map"?

One newsletter I get (from Dan Reiland) noted today that inspiration can be done through charisma, through relationships and/or through passion.

But that doesn't really tell me what inspiration IS. It only tells me ways it can be communicated.

In thinking about inspiration, I still don't have a definition, but I see five elements of inspiration:

  • Inspiration broadens people’s visions of what is do-able or desirable. Suddenly all sorts of possibilities seem to open up.
  • Inspiration helps people believe that what seems too big for them is actually do-able, or at least worth attempting. It may seem too big to be accomplished at present, but might be accomplishable if we allow ourselves to… (grow, trust God, give someone a second chance…whatever.)
  • Inspiration includes a call to action, but also motivates people to be excited about acting or feeling drawn to want to act.
  • Inspiration is evolutionary. There is a bit of uncertainty about where the path will lead, but wherever it is, it will be exciting.
  • Inspiration is a call to grow personally in some way. Gifts and talents within you seem to awaken or call for development. Inspiration will not leave you where it found you.

These goes way beyond facts and beliefs. They touches the heart God has put within us.

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