Let’s just get it out there. Preaching is hard.
In the midst of all the disputes over preaching, this fact remains undisputed. Yes, preaching is wonderful and exhilarating. But, it is also exhausting, frustrating, and difficult. Whether a person has preached one time, or a hundred times, they know this.
Why is that? What makes preaching so hard?
I would suggest that it has to do with the nature of preaching. Preaching is not just delivering a message, passing along facts, or making a point (though it does include these things). At its core, preaching is something that calls for a response in the listener.
Put differently, members of the congregation are not to be just detached observers of a sermon. God always calls his people to respond, in some fashion, to what his Word declares.
But it is precisely this feature that makes preaching so difficult. What are the most effective ways to call for a response? Or, in more common parlance, how do we apply God’s word?
When it comes to application, I would suggest that preachers tend to fall into a bit of a rut. We tend to use the same type of application, over and over again.
In order to remedy this, let me suggest three different categories for how to apply God’s word. These three categories are not mutually exclusive (and often overlap), but they can provide much-needed balance and breadth to our preaching. [Read more…]