Magazine article The Christian Century

Preach It

Magazine article The Christian Century

Preach It

Article excerpt

IN HIS NOVEL Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope writes: "There is, perhaps, no greater hardship on mankind in civilized and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent, and be tormented." Those words flash across my consciousness occasionally, especially since I am part of this remarkable phenomenon. I am sometimes amazed that people regularly come, sit and listen to a sermon, for the most part hopefully and expectantly. They probably give preachers a better hearing than they give anyone else on a regular basis.

We preachers can become our own harshest critics. What preacher has not felt inadequate before this daunting weekly responsibility? But what preacher has not also had the experience of feeling dissatisfied with one's sermon and then being told afterward by a listener that the sermon meant everything in the world to him, or that it seemed addressed directly to her? That particular experience convinces me that there is a lot more going on between preacher and people than what the preacher puts into it, that God can use even a poor sermon when it's offered to God in humility, and that people really do listen. …

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