Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cowardly Lion Preaching

imageYou are likely familiar with the exchange between Dorothy and the Lion when they meet up in the forest in the Wizard of Oz: 

DOROTHY: Why, you're nothing but a great big coward!

LION: You're right -- I am a coward. I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself. Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven't slept in weeks.

TIN MAN: Why don't you try counting sheep?

LION: That doesn't do any good -- I'm afraid of 'em.

Well, Cowardly Lions are not the only ones who lack courage.  Many preachers lack courage in their preaching. 

Colin Adams points to an outstanding post by Michael Quicke ("Ten Leading Questions for Preachers" [here]) noting:

"Ten Marks of Preaching that Lacks Courage"

    1. Individualistic. Is "you" always about the personal individual lives of hearers, and how often is "you" (plural) and "we" related to the community?
    2. Aimed at head or heart but rarely at both. Identify where head and heart were balanced, to call the community to be holistically engaged?
    3. Spineless theology. Is there a theology of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, either explicit or implicit?
    4. Generic application. In what ways did the personal relationship of preacher with church community and surrounding context make the sermon particular rather than general?
    5. Avoids conflict. Were there assumptions that everything in church is bound to be happy?
    6. Low compliance. What, if ANY, response to we expect as a result of this sermon?
    7. Absence of process issues. Was there any connection with larger congregational issues like congregational vision or congregational changes that are needed?
    8. Solo role. Is it obvious that other people were involved in the sermon preparation and its delivery?
    9. Cowardice. Were there times when scriptural challenges were softened or missed?
    10. Missionally defective. In what ways did the sermon challenge the church to live as missional people, expressing Christ's life and love in its witness before the world?

The article is well worth your time.

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