Posts Tagged ‘Preaching’

African Pentecostal Kinetic Preaching, Part 2

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Nimi Wariboko

african_preaching_2In Part I of this essay, I examined the kinetic nature of African Pentecostal preaching.  We discussed the sheer energetic force of preaching as a full-blooded dramatic performance. The performance requires an ensemble of skills that draws the people to one another, to the preacher, and to God. In that very act of centripetal collation and knitting of emotions and foci, there is a subtle mastery of centrifugal energy fashioned to maintain a circle of aura around the preacher. This is what I want to discuss today. My guiding question remains: are seminaries in the North America adequately preparing their students for this kind of preaching?  Read the rest of this entry »

African Pentecostal Kinetic Preaching: Can Seminaries Prepare Students for It?

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 by Nimi Wariboko

african_preachingIt is a moving sight to behold. Thousands of people simultaneously praying in unison, spitting out words as bullets in a rapid-fire mode, heads shaking violently, muscles and nerves taut in deployment, and all are enveloped in air thick with dust and humidity. The ground quakes as they enthusiastically stamp their feet on the floor. Young men and women are rapidly punching the air with clenched fists and angrily wagging their fingers at the devil. And flesh, aided by rivulets of hot sweat, holds on tightly to fabric. Bodies, broken bodies, hungry bodies, rich bodies, old bodies, young bodies, sway toward one another. Worship is a running splash of bodies and words—flung and scattered among four corners like broken mask in the square. This na prayer; this is the aesthetics of talking to God in African Pentecostal gathering. Prayer is a dynamo of excess energy leaping like flames in a dry-season burning bush and heading straight from earth to the throne room of God. But are our seminaries preparing students for this ministry? Read the rest of this entry »

Paul and the Miraculous: A Review of Graham Twelftree’s Historical Reconstruction

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 by David Johnson

twelftreeGraham H. Twelftree. Paul and the Miraculous: A Historical Reconstruction. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. xxv+390 pp. ISBN 978-0-8010-2772-7

Paul has been widely studied as a theologian; however his views on the miraculous have been often neglected. Twelftree attempts to alleviate this situation by addressing to what extent Paul’s ministry and teaching included the miraculous. A guiding principle in deciphering the historical Paul is that Paul’s life and work are as important as his theological contributions. The book consists of 5 parts addressing the person of Paul, Paul’s inheritance, Paul’s testimony, Paul’s interpreters, and Paul’s relationship to the miraculous. Will Twelftree agree with the majority view that Paul excised Christianity of the miraculous or will he take up arms to defend the charismatic view that Paul was comfortable with the miraculous? Read the rest of this entry »

Words That Transform: Preaching as a Catalyst for Renewal

Monday, June 27th, 2011 by Timothy Lim Teck Ngern

James T. Flynn. Words That Transform: Preaching as a Catalyst for Renewal. Lanham; University Press of America, 2010.

Flynn presents a compelling case for transformational preaching as a catalyst for renewal in a way unlike a number of dominant publications. In four of eight chapters, he focuses on the primary importance of the preacher’s inner journey towards personal transformation (chs. 1, 3-5), two chapters are dedicated to sermon preparation and preaching techniques (chs. 6-7), one chapter on the incarnational ministry of Jesus (chs. 2), and a concluding chapter on experiences and anecdotal lessons. In a way, this structure reflects Flynn’s own conviction that the most effective preaching occurs in the preacher’s inner life, and only twenty-five percent of the labor reflects the external work of the preacher. Most homiletic literature devotes the weightiest part to the technicalities of preparing sermons. In fact, one can rarely find a chapter on the preacher’s inner life. Perhaps the closest sources to Flynn’s emphasis on transformational preaching are Barbara Lundblad’s Transforming the Stone (2001) and James Lemler’s Transforming Preaching (2010) albeit not in an overarching manner as Flynn’s Words That Transform.

The book presents a realistic vision of transformational preaching ministry. Flynn emphasizes that effective transformational preaching depends on the pastor’s experience of God’s transformative message in his or her own life . This includes the influence of irritation, pressure, pain and life’s setbacks as God’s way to mature and shape the preacher towards genuine transformation in order that a ready preacher may become a conduit of God’s message. He calls this a bitter-sweet journey of a preacher’s life as the personal price of preaching! Preachers wrestle with God in many ways – they serve even amidst their own sinfulness, they sometimes fear that God does not speak to them about the message for each Sunday and that life circumstances and the rigors of the pastoral ministry stand as obstacles in the way of the preacher’s preparation. But still, Flynn affirms the calling and undertakings of those who aspire to the preaching ministry and suggests that if a preacher will be open to God’s voice, then God will always show-up to guide the preacher as to what he or she ought to be saying.In this way preaching becomes the power to change lives, alter destinies, renew minds, bring hope and encouragement and a legacy for future generations.

In light of his theme, Flynn develops a theory of transformative sermon preparation according to which the preacher learns to be sensitive to God’s transformational message for the preacher in the course of the preacher’s daily life, and especially by attending to God’s open book and “dazzling theatre” – creation. Nature and life experiences are after all “powerful teachers of truth” and powerful metaphors and bridge-builders for communicating God’s word in preaching (p.86). In this manner, Flynn discusses healthy components of a preacher’s life that aid in the construction of transforming message. These components include the cultivation of virtues, forgiving attitude, humility, creativity, imagination, rest and rejuvenation. As a process in the crafting of sermons, Flynn recommends that preachers pay attention to the art and science of shaping sermons, giving priority the eyes (focus), skeleton (structure), heart (emotive), joints (transitions/connectives), flesh (multisensory experience in stories, testimonies and metaphors), and muscles (that introduces and drives home the point of the sermon) of a sermon. Throughout his book, Flynn never fails to capture his readers with well-chosen stories, metaphors, ideas, backed-up by words and historical studies presented in simple-formats so as to drive home his points! These should entice anyone to read Flynn’s work seriously since so much content and ideas are packed in a 200-page publication.

In order to articulate a broad and transformative vision of life as the context in which God speaks,Flynn would find some assistance in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The discernment of God is grounded in a healthy distinction of life’s possessions from God including those we love and treasure the most so that everything in life and creation are the context by which God speaks! Nonetheless, I wonder if to some degree Flynn has over-extended the transformational dimension of preaching. Just as we do not remember every good meal we have consumed through the years, it is also unlikely that we can expect transformational preaching to occur each week for every participant (even if I assume that all are walking uncompromisingly and are equally desirous, hungry, and zealous of God). In other words, God’s transformational work can also occur in silence and in ways unknown to the consciousness of the preacher and the receiving audience: sometimes even in the most unlikely settings. Although Flynn shows that God works in mysterious ways, he appears to favor the view that transformational preaching is to be expected. But, can we really expect that God’s transformative work is always manifested in tangible ways ? If not, then the conviction Flynn puts forth needs a slight modification: even messages that appears not to be transformational can be transformational as God would direct in ways unknown to the audience and the preacher. Here we would have to probe more deeply in the dimensions that answer what truly qualifies as transformational. The assumption of what counts as transformational really defines how he frames the preaching ministry. This direction may enlarge Flynn’s own project to the many other facets of the pastoral experience. It is time to expand the Renewal perspective on a pneumatologically-open agenda toward other elements of pastoral ministry.


A Word in Due Season

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 by James Flynn

I remember getting the call at about nine-thirty in the evening as I was easing into a night at home with my family. I had done John and Sally’s wedding a few years back. Several months earlier, we had gotten the wonderful news that they were expecting a baby. The voice on the other end of the phone this particular evening was John’s mother—Sally had gone into labor unexpectedly and was at the hospital. John’s mom sounded frantic. She asked if I would pray and come to the hospital and wait with them for the outcome. Sally’s pregnancy was about twenty-five weeks along—past the point of viability but in a dangerous zone that meant this baby would be in for the battle of its tiny life. I rushed down to hospital, and the baby was born about three hours later. That night I was introduced to the wonders of neonatal medicine, the pediatric intensive care unit, and the world of trouble that can surround a premature birth.

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Child-like Faith

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 by James Flynn

Preachers usually remember their first sermon. Many of our audiences won’t forget them, either. For those of us called to preach, our first sermon is like our first kiss—we remember the place, time, sights, sounds, and even the smell. I gave my first sermon in 1975 in a small church a few miles from my house. I was a gangly teenager and had just made a commitment to Jesus Christ six months before.

I decided to visit that small church on the corner to check things out and see if the people there were crazy, as others had told me. I figured I had nothing to lose. My parents already thought I was crazy as a sixteen-year-old to be studying the Bible so much instead of partying with my friends like a “normal” teenager. Besides, the pastor’s daughter was cute, and the pastor was known for stirring things up with his unorthodox style of preaching. If nothing else, the visit would be entertaining, and who knew if I might get a date with the pastor’s daughter?

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