Preaching is proclamation, not just moralizing. It is Good News, not just good advice; it is gospel, not just law.

Ian Pitt-Watson, A Primer for Preachers

A biblical sermon is not a book report. It is a proclamation of what has been heard in and through the text.

Leander E. Keck, The Bible in the Pulpit

What you are after is not that folks shall say at the end of it all, "What an excellent sermon!" That is a measured failure. You are there to have them say, when it is over, "What a great God!" It is something for men not to have been in your presence but in his.

J. H. Jowett, quoted in Context (Dec. 1, 1997)

Preaching is finally more than art or science. It is alchemy, in which tin becomes gold and yard rocks become diamonds under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is a process of transformation for both preacher and congregation alike, as the ordinary details of their everyday lives are translated into extraordinary elements of God's ongoing creation.

Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life

Bad exegesis is no less worse than bad conduct.

Tertullian, On Purity

The trouble with many sermons is not so much that the preachers are out of touch with what is going on in the world or in books or in theology, but that they are out of touch with what is going on in their own lives and in the lives of the people they are preaching to. Whether their subject is hope or faith or charity or anything else, let them speak out of the living truth of their own experience of those high matters. Let them have the courage to be themselves.

Frederick Buechner, The Living Pulpit

I'm Suspicious of preaching that is not biblically based, but I'm also suspicious of preaching that is biblically confined. If one doesn't get out of the Bible and into peoples' lives, I think one has missed it.

Lee Strobel, Leadership

All Honor to relevance, but pastors should be good marksmen who lift their guns beyond the hills of relevance.

Karl Barth, Homiletics

[The preacher] ought to pray for himself and for those he is about to address before he attempts to speak. And when the hour has come that he must speak, before he opens his mouth, he must lift up his thirsty soul to God, to drink in what he is about to pour forth, and be himself filled with what he is about to distribute.

Augustine, On Christian Learning

The prophet speaks only when he is inspired. The parish preacher must speak whether he is inspired or not. I wonder whether it is possible to live on a high enough plane to do that without sinning against the Holy Spirit.

Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic

Once a priest said to us that no one gets up in the pulpit without promulgating a heresy. He was joking, of course, but what I suppose he meant was that truth was so pure, so holy, that it was hard to emphasize one aspect of the truth without underestimating another, that we did not see things as a whole, but in part, through a glass darkly, as St. Paul said.

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Related Elsewhere

Past Reflections columns include:

Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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