Saturday, November 24, 2007
What We've Been Up To...
We had a great Thanksgiving, as the kids were intrigued by the headless turkey. Lots of questions came flying out of their mouths like "where's the head...why did the hunter kill the turkey...what do turkeys eat???" When dinner was served the questions ceased as the kids devoured the food in front of them and talked to their friends Elliott and Nate, who joined us for the feast along with their grandmother Phyllis.
Lots of questions have been floating around in my mind too, not about turkeys but about my dissertation topic and research. October and early November was a pretty exhausting time for us Beeson Pastors, though we all made it through and met our assignment deadlines. Our attention now begins to turn with more intentionality toward our dissertation.
The focus of my dissertation is to develop a model for preaching as a spiritual discipline, as opposed to a merely technical task. Too many preachers, myself included, get so caught up with homiletic technique and rhetorical ability that we sometimes forget how utterly reliant we are upon the power of God's Spirit to empower the words we preach. I'm not suggesting that the development of technique and rhetorical skills is unimportant; it is very vital to effective preaching. What my dissertaion argues, however, is that the technique of preaching should never take the lead in the homiletic dance with the spirituality of preaching.
So, I will develop a process for developing and delivering sermons that is more driven by spiritual disciplines than rhetorical technique. I hope to recruit 5 preaching pastors in the Penn-Jersey District of the Wesleyan Church who will employ my model for six months. My hunch is that their utilization of this spiritual homiletic will cultivate in them greater joy in preaching and more pronounced ethos (integrity/character/holiness) among the congregants to whom they speak. My hope and prayer is that the model I develop will invite the power of God's Spirit through my preaching and that of my pastoral colleagues in a heightened way. Because at the end of the day, the impact of Christian preaching relies more on the spiritual ethos than the rhetorical eloquence of the preacher. In other words, who the preacher is in Christ matters more than what they say and how they say it. Or, to put it another way, the power of a sermon comes more from the ethos of the preacher than the eloquence of the preaching.
I genuinely welcome your thoughts and questions about my dissetation focus, which will help me to better articulate my own thoughts and questions.