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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Plain speaking

Good preaching doesn't try to be relevant; it simply tells me the truth.

The old preachers in my acquaintance complain that contemporary preaching does not close the deal. It doesn't preach for a verdict. Sermons as actual speeches may not be so bad, they say, but they never finish with proclamation of Christ's promises or call for any examination of life or confession of sin — or, horrors, a decision to follow Jesus.

They're right. Too much Lutheran preaching sounds as bland and boring as the messages in greeting cards. Except we are trying to argue people into faith by persuading them that it's really not so challenging after all. Or we try to convince people of God's relevance by speaking on countless important subjects, but we do not always proclaim the gospel.

We all have our stories. The worst for me is a Lutheran pastor who, on Easter, informed the congregation that they all knew what the Resurrection was about but what was more immediate was the situation in Central America. He then delivered a rousing political speech. One of my friends describes it a life-changing event because she realized how unfaithful it was.



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September issue

SEPTEMBER issue:

Reinventing Sunday school

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