Release of Listeners Dare: Hearing God in the Sermon

This month, Abindgon Press publishes my new book, Listeners Dare: Hearing God in the Sermon. It’s my attempt to think about preaching from the listener’s perspective and to give sermon listeners help in getting more out of sermons. 

In five decades of preaching and teaching preaching, I’ve learned to respect preaching as a demanding practice for listeners. Listeners Dare is my celebration of the ways in which God gets through to people through sermons. I offer help for listeners seeking to get more out of sermons and for preachers who must listen to their listeners. Christians are those who have dared to listen for a word from the Lord and have heard that word in Jesus Christ. Listening to sermons is a major way that God gets through to God’s people.

You can hear more about the book in the short video below!

“Preacher Lab” with Will Wold

I had the opportunity to join Rev. Will Wold on “Preacher Lab” last week to talk all things preaching: using Scripture, preaching length, the use of humor, and even “mic drop” endings. Thanks again for having me on. Hope you’ll listen and enjoy.

You can listen to it on any podcast streaming service by searching for “Preacher Lab” or you can listen on the website below.

A Stirring Sermon from Preacher Jesus

Here’s a sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. I try to channel Jesus’ own spirit of stirring up a congregation to think differently as is present to us in Luke’s Gospel, the fourth chapter. Join me in seeing the congregation’s response to Preacher Jesus. Enjoy!

In Memory of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

When the news of Bishop Tutu’s death reached me, my mind went back to 1986 when Bishop Tutu honored me and Duke Chapel by a visit. The regional TV was eager to broadcast. Trouble was, Bishop Tutu was delayed in Atlanta while meeting with Coretta Scott King and so we started the service that night, and the TV broadcast, with no Bishop Tutu. I took the congregation through the entire service as planned and, when we got to the place of the sermon, we had the Chapel’s first “hymn sing.” I was in agony. Then, just as we were singing, “When through firey trials I cause thee to go,” the doors of the chapel burst open and my friend Lew Waddel of Duke Public Safety led the bishop through down the Chapel aisle as the congregation went wild (at 37:00 on the video).

I greeted the bishop with, “Good to see you. Preach as long as you like but the TV leaves us in fifteen minutes.” Bishop Tutu ended a thrilling sermon right as TV coverage ended. 

“I had a great time,” he said to me after the service.

“Me too,” I said. Though I never wanted to lead a hymn sing on live TV ever again.

The Conversationalist God

I recently shared this article with Ministry Matters where I talk about the language of the Christian faith.

“The truth about God comes our way through God’s refusal to give up on divine/human colloquy and abandon us to soliloquy. For good reason is Jesus ‘The Word.’ Whoever said, ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one,’ or ‘Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words,’ it wasn’t Jesus.”