One of the things that I found to be fascinating about my preaching class that I took last semester was this notion that many preachers seldom preach certain aspects of the gospel. There are many preachers who only want to present a gospel that is feel good, inspiring, or exciting. At some level, this leaves many congregants in a difficult place because it does little to help them in times when life is a struggle.
Yet, the gospel is full of examples of hope and how to navigate life during difficult times. People want to know how to deal with death, loss, brokenness, and depression. They want to know how to find hope when challenges arise, like the loss of a child, a spouse, a parent, a home, a job, etc.
Luke A. Powery’s book Dem Dy Bones: Preaching, Death, and Hope is an exploration of this very issue and how a preacher can be more impactful and resourceful in preaching a more well-rounded gospel that speaks to these neglected subjects. Powery readily admits that much of preaching is “candy” theology that is feel good, sugary substitutes for that which enables the congregation to truly live with practical life applications.
Using the prophetic text of Ezekiel 37, Powery helps preachers to see how they can provide hope by being truthful to the entirety all scripture. He also presents how songs, especially spirituals can play an integral part of the process of sermon delivery to convey the message of hope.
I found this book to be especially resourceful for those who have an affinity to be worshipful; a true heart or “Spirit of David” type when it comes to preaching. Some might call it exhortation. This book is something that a good preacher can take and grasp upon the prophetic aspects of scripture that lead to redemption and restoration. A preacher whose only view of the gospel is from a mountaintop perspective must come to grips with the reality that no one ever goes from mountain top to mountain top experience without having spent some time in the valley. This book strengthens the preacher for this very thing.
I would recommend this book to any preacher or speaker who needs to have that understanding and to grow in more depth, so that they are not viewed as being a dispenser of candy coated, ear itching preaching that does nothing to mature or grow a Christian.
QUESTION: Have you ever been criticized for only preaching one type of message? What has helped you to become more balanced in your preaching?