Jan 25, 2010

Possibilities Rather Than Lists

Daniel Overdorf makes the following helpful observations in his book, A
pplying the Sermon.

"Effecive sermon application offers possibilities that enhance the work of the Spirit instead of lists that can interfere with the work of the Spirit.
We preachers enjoy our lists and steps: 'Four things that will give you a vibrant prayer life,' or 'Three steps to becoming the husband God wants you to be.' Such application can limit what the Spirit may want to do with a text in the heart of a listener. What if the Spirit had wanted the listener to implement a fifth 'thing' into her prayer life? What if a husband needed to do something to improve is marriage that the preacher hadn't thought of?

"Furthermore, when we offer only lists or steps, we may inadvertently imply to listeners, 'These are the only ways this teaching applies to your life.' And, perhaps even more damaging, we may tell listeners, 'You can take these four easy steps into any circumstance, any life situation, any struggle, and they will solve everything.'

"This approach risks interfering with the complex, meticulous, mysterious work of the Spirit. It ignores the tensions of life. It trivializes the knotty business of real faith. And, in the end, such an approach often results in legalistic listeners who have reduced the enormity of Christianity to a few rules and steps."

Daniel Overdorf, Applying the Sermon: How to Balance Biblical Integrity and Cultural Relevance (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009), 50.


Bill Heroman said...

Amen, Hallelujah!

I'm so happy to hear someone say this, Charles, I won't even ask "What if the Spirit wanted something other than a sermon some sunday?"


In all seriousness, however often we get "sermons", this is fantastic commentary. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Charles Savelle said...

Thanks for stopping by. I am glad that you found the comments valuable.