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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The sermon

Often just an earful of talk about God; folks want encounter with God

It happens on a weekly basis. Someone preaches a sermon almost every time Christians gather for worship. A sermon is meant to take people places and alter their perspectives. It is an event designed to walk the Lord into heads that get all locked up and hearts that get all broken up. Every line a preacher delivers oozes with potential. At least that's the expectation. 

Unfortunately, eventfulness doesn't always happen. Sometimes it rarely occurs. Hearers may endure what sounds to their ears like an extended book report. They force themselves to listen to a preacher retell the biblical story they heard read moments earlier, only with a couple thousand explanatory words thrown in. When they want an encounter with God, what they often receive is an earful of talk about God.

Having just returned from 11 weeks of listening to preachers in churches across the country, I'm ready to make some adjustments in my own preaching. I heard dreadful stuff that is an embarrassment to the riches of the gospel and discourteous to hearers who possess honest hopes. I was also lucky enough to experience some exemplary preaching that rocked my soul. Here are a few conclusions drawn from that journey.


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