Last week I was talking to my students about the challenge of helping listeners overcome their objections to the sermon’s big idea. I likened the challenge to fishing. I’m not much of a fisherman, but I know that once you’ve got the fish on the hook, you don’t just bring the fish into the boat. You’ve got to let the fish run a little. What I mean is that we have to create room in our sermons for the listener to struggle with what they have heard. We have to let them fight back some if we expect them to take hold of the message and truly own it. We can’t just explain our big idea and sit down thinking "I’ve made my point." We may have explained our point and the listeners may have understood it but that doesn’t mean that they are ready to give their lives for it. I love the image provided by Hemmingway in The Old Man and the Sea of the ancient fisherman who takes two full days to bring in the giant fish that he has hooked. This isn’t going to come easily. If we want our listeners to respond to the gospel, we’re going to have to fight for it. We’re going to have to struggle. The best way I know how to do this is to anticipate the things that the listener is going to have to overcome and then to use the listener’s voice in articulating these things in the space of the sermon. The listener needs to recognize her or his own voice in the sermon. The listener needs to know that the preacher is speaking as a listener and for the listeners. It is a matter of showing respect for the listener as a person with dignity who has the right to make his or her own response to God. Let the fish run. When it’s ready you’ll be able to bring it into the boat.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — The Apostle Paul
In This Section
Five Most Recent Articles
- Alumni in Ministry by Dr. Kenton Anderson
- The People who make up Northwest by Loren Warkentin M.T.S.
- Theology Boot Camps for Christian Growth by Eric Fehr
- New (and not so new) faces at Northwest by Loren Warkentin M.T.S.
- Changes by Dr. Kenton Anderson
Five Most Commented Articles
- Immerse Fall Intake on October 1, 2014
- Fall Fundraising Banquets on October 2, 2014 6:00 pm
- Thanksgiving Day on October 13, 2014
- Fall Fundraising Banquets on October 18, 2014 6:00 pm
- MinistryLift Equipping Conference on October 24, 2014 8:30 am
- Immerse Fall Orientation on November 5, 2014 8:30 am
- Immerse Fall Website Training on November 5, 2014 1:30 pm
- Immerse Fall Mentor Training (all day) on November 6, 2014 8:30 am
- Immerse Fall Logos Training on November 6, 2014 8:30 am
- Immerse Fall Exegetical Workshop on November 6, 2014 1:00 pm
View the Large Calendar