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Common Myths about Preaching

A short post, just wanted to share an article that was published today on the Anglican Journal website, Common Myths about Preaching by the Rev. Robert Hartley.

I would suggest the underlying message behind Hartley’s myths is that we underestimate the interest, knowledge, faith and intelligence of our listeners. I particularly appreciate the myth regarding the length of the sermon. It has also been my experience that a poor 10 minute sermon is too long, and an engaging, stimulating 20 minute sermon is not long enough. People will sit through a terrible 2 hour movie, but we push to crush our liturgies into an hour.

What do you think about Hartley’s myths? Do they match your experience?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.

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0 Responses to Common Myths about Preaching

  1. Dawn – interesting article that you provided the link for.  In respect of “The first myth: sermons are largely irrelevant in today’s world. Many pastors have been heard to say, “I don’t know what I preached on last Sunday. How is anyone else supposed to remember?” my comment on that is that I believe sermons are a vital part of the worship service, most people in my congregation that I am aware of feel the same way.  As a layperson, I come to church hoping to hear some aspect of God’s word explained to me in a way that will help me understand my faith better and to help me learn how to share God’s love in the week ahead.  I view sermons like drinking a glass of cold water when you are thirsty – sure, you won’t remember a week later about drinking that glass of water, but at the time it was life giving to have that nice drink of cold water.  The same goes for a sermons.  I can’t imagine coming to a reglar Sunday worship service and not hearing God’s word preached as part of the service.

  2. Dawn – interesting article that you provided the link for.  In respect of “The first myth: sermons are largely irrelevant in today’s world. Many pastors have been heard to say, “I don’t know what I preached on last Sunday. How is anyone else supposed to remember?” my comment on that is that I believe sermons are a vital part of the worship service, most people in my congregation that I am aware of feel the same way.  As a layperson, I come to church hoping to hear some aspect of God’s word explained to me in a way that will help me understand my faith better and to help me learn how to share God’s love in the week ahead.  I view sermons like drinking a glass of cold water when you are thirsty – sure, you won’t remember a week later about drinking that glass of water, but at the time it was life giving to have that nice drink of cold water.  The same goes for a sermons.  I can’t imagine coming to a reglar Sunday worship service and not hearing God’s word preached as part of the service.

  3. Dawn Leger

    Thanks John. I learned early on that the Anglican Eucharist liturgy is a balance between the Service of the Word and the Eucharist. Our experience at communion is and expression of, a response to and flows out of our experience in the Service of the Word. This was always set against an understanding of Communion being the primary obligation (receive the bread then head out the door to the pub). So, if we are not engaging in the Word, what are people bringing to the altar?

    To have a fuller experience of communion, we need the time with the Word to reflect on the work of God in our lives. Effective preaching has a critical part to play in that.

  4. Dawn, I’m glad you mention the balance between word and table. That’s obviously the shape of liturgy we’re all familiar with in today’s ACC. It does beg the question though: without effective preaching, what remains in non-Eucharist worship? Obviously there are other important elements like prayer and song, but knowing that, at least historically, many Canadian parishes were formed in the Morning Prayer tradition, it seems that the sermon would have had greater emphasis. Perhaps a member “of riper years” can shed more light on the subject. 🙂

    It does seem, however, that alongside Gospel proclamation, many are craving teaching: about theology, traditions, and contextualizing beliefs in a changing world. Seems the pulpit (or the floor, or wherever) is welcome venue!

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