An essay: Preaching is Hard


Here’s the opening of a wonderful essay of the craft of preaching.

“Preaching is hard. Anyone who has ever sat with the Bible open, surrounded by commentaries, with a date circled on the calendar, knows what I mean. Words don’t jump to life by themselves. When it happens, it’s hard to explain how it happened. When it doesn’t, it’s just depressing.

This set of books about preaching tells us something about the difficulty of preaching. To read great preaching is to open oneself to homiletical despair. Sure I can see that Will Willimon is hilarious, Barbara Brown Taylor gentle, Marilyn McCord Adams brilliant—but how’s that make me any more likely to be hilarious, gentle, or brilliant on some upcoming Sunday morning at 11?”

Jason Byassee goes on to compare and contrast the various styles of modern and ancient preachers – and speaks to the seriousness of what it takes to be “good” preacher.

My favorite quote on preaching is mentioned in the essay: “Despise praise,” for if a preacher is “impudent and boastful and vainglorious his superior may as well pray daily to die. – St. John Chrysostom”. I’d probably swap the word “superior” with “congregation” – but to tell the truth, that body won’t stick around long enough to make that prayer if the preacher behaves in the manner described…

An essay: Preaching is Hard

(Via Pietest.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...