The Preacher as Antichrist: a sonnet

The Preacher as Antichrist To seize the flesh and make it word instead, Dissecting lived perfection to display Cold concepts, or trite lessons—mere cliche— I block th’ incarnate Word in printer’s lead, Make husk and dry chaff of the living bread, Turn laughter, tears, and blood, to an essay— Mere cleverness—affront to those who pray. To those who come, desiring to be fed And given hope, is all that can be said A worthless, weak, and cheap call to obey? Alliterated numbered points convey A dreary discourse, dull as it is dead. I look up to the Spirit that me owns, And ask, can life be given to these dry bones?   (Certainly not a theorised criticism of preaching; more a confession that, too often, this is what it feels like I am...

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The preacher’s task

I get asked sometimes if I enjoy preaching. I find it a hard question. I know I can’t not preach. And often, when actually preaching, I know that intoxicating experience of utter single-mindedness and control – ‘flow’ as they call it – which is dangerously exhilarating and addictive. Every worthwhile sermon I have ever preached, however, has hurt to write, as I have found that in the text that I wanted so much to avoid, and have been forced to face up to it. And Sangster’s old line, that every preacher sits down every time with disappointment and the hope that ‘next time I shall preach!’ rings true for me. These words probably reflect those two moments of pain more than the ecstatic moment of preaching that comes between. Read Revere Relish Reflect...

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‘Show, don’t tell’: bad preaching and mock reality TV for kids

Our seven year old daughter is presently obsessed by a CBBC show called ‘The Next Step’. I stand up and leave the room when the show comes on. Recently I finally worked out why. It’s because it is far too like bad preaching. And I hate bad preaching (particularly when I am the preacher).

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Why TED talks are far less interesting than revival sermons

I like good oratory. I teach public speaking regularly. I source and buy or download examples of great (imho…) examples of the genre, from business, politics, cinema, and the church. I watch the best of them over and over, making notes on why they work. I go over videos almost frame-by-frame with classes and seminars, pointing out this hand-movement, that inflection, the use of eyes, the deployment of silence, and of course two dozen or more classical rhetorical techniques, which I name easily in Greek and English. I like good oratory. A while ago, at a dinner party, the conversation turned to TED talks. I admitted, truthfully, that I have never yet watched to the end of one. It turned out that another guest was VP of a firm that sponsored one of the...

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On International Women’s Day: Why I can no longer defend the ministry of women in the church

I have defended the ministry of women in the church in public for a while now, including on this blog.

I don’t think I can do it any longer.

Not because of any lack of calling or gifting in their ministry, but because of a lack in mine.

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