This past Sunday, our church (Boone’s Creek Baptist Church) was invited by Second Independent Missionary Baptist Church for a joint service to celebrate their 157th Homecoming. Second Independent is an African-American church pastored by Rev. Eugene Turner, who has served as pastor of that church for over 20 years. Even though over 25 years separates us age-wise (I will be 40 in October, he will be 68 that same month), we have become brothers in the ministry.
I had the pleasure of hearing him preach in Trinidad when our churches joined together to go on-mission to help Mt. Beulah Evangelical Baptist in Point Fortin plant a church in an unreached area in Rancho Quemado. I compared this to the sermon I heard Roddie Taylor preach last night—as well as with the style of preaching by which I preach (I had the privilege to preach yesterday morning at Second Independent). In the midst of this, I began to analyze the different methods. I use the metaphors of the river and the waves on the seashore.
Preaching Like a River
Rivers run smoothly from head out into the delta. Not a lot of bumps, seldom if any rapids in the delivery—just faithfully moving things along to where it opens up into the larger body of water (like the Nile into the Mediterranean, the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, or the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean).
Preachers who preach like this run steadily and smoothly to an end in mind so that the truth of God’s Word (by the Spirit) would open up in the heart of the listener. Every so often, there is the ‘river rapids’ in the delivery, but eventually it smoothes out as the sermon takes you on that journey. They may not get a lot of “Amens” or “Go on, preacher” and they may not be told they preach with “fire,” but they press on toward the goal before them—faithfulness to the Word of God.
Preaching Like Waves on the Ocean
Think about the waves on an ocean. Rhythmically, repeatedly, without fail, they keep coming and coming, emphasizing its presence and power with each crash. No fluff, no fanfare—just coming at you with force and effectiveness.
I almost entitled this “preaching like a machine gun” or “preaching with a punch.” This type of preaching is not so much an unfolding of “the big idea” as it is bringing out certain principles and driving it home in an effective cadence and rhythm that just builds until the point is driven home—and then it starts over again. Some excellent examples of this type of preaching is anything from Tim Keller.
In listening to a sermon by Roddie Taylor from Trinidad yesterday, he was talking about prayer. He would say (not directly quoting, but pretty close), “Churches do not need to be about being therapists. Churches do not need to be about programs. Churches do not need to be about the world’s business. What … churches … need … to… be about … is praaaayer!” The rhythm of the preaching rose and fell with such effectiveness that it took you on a different type of journey than that of a river than inspiring the emotions to action. For a great example of this, listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech!