Preach the Word – May/June 2014

Volume 17, Number 5.

Prof. Paul Koelpin stresses the importance of context, while Pastor Nathan Strobel approaches the audience of young adults.

Location, Location, Location

Preachers are often tempted to equate text study with word study. This piece aims to emphasize the value of exploring the rich settings of context during the text study. Often context can supply a sermon with a unique sense of depth, dimension and distinctiveness.

The impromptu homiletics lesson was memorable. “What is the key to giving your sermons a certain sense of depth?” a vicar once asked a veteran pastor who was well-known as a “good preacher.” The pastor hesitated briefly, then replied with a smile: “Location, location, location.” He knew that the vicar was not expecting his answer, nor did the vicar immediately understand what he meant. What did a real estate adage have to do with sermonizing? “I’m trying to emphasize the value of context,” explained the pastor. . . .

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Preaching to Young Adults: A Work from Humility and Grace

The feature essay in this issue explores the elements of reaching young adults with the message of sin and grace. Rev. Nathan Strobel, an experienced campus pastor, treats the issues of culture and approach. While young adults wrestle with temptations that test the process of maturing, their spiritual needs are no different than other age groups. Rev. Strobel writes: “We [preachers] too are subject to sin—a fact which assists us in preaching authentically and honestly to young adults.”

I usually wince when I read Psalm 25. When will my youth be over? When will I “age out” of certain sins? Some days I think that my youth will not be over until I stand glorified in his presence. The freedom of heaven will be such a delight! In the meantime, my “Romans 7 struggles” seem to serve God’s young adults well as I prepare and preach to them. Reflection on my own youth makes me—perhaps—less judgmental, less outraged, less irritated, more compassionate, more patient as a preacher. Who am I that I should have this grace to be God’s shepherd, to preach to his sheep? I begin to see preaching to young adults as a work from humility and grace. . . .

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God’s Treasure . . . From a Clay Jar

This is a sermon excerpt of an Ascension Day sermon with the theme: “Why Do You Look to the Sky?” The theme picks up on the question the angels asked the disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into heaven. It stands as a metaphor for worry and anxiety—the emotions associated with fear and doubt. Rather, the ascension was evidence of Christ’s power and authority. Jesus gives his believers purpose—to be witnesses of his grace and glory.

“Has Ascension somehow lost its luster?” puzzled a colleague several years ago. What do you think? Perhaps it is difficult to schedule Thursday worship, but this great event in Christ’s exaltation deserves supreme celebration. The “alleluias” are fervent, decisive proclamation that Jesus is “preparing a place for us” to live eternally in the perfection of paradise. . . .

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