David Fleer on Preaching, Christian Chronicle, January 2009

The 1/09 issue of the Christian Chronicle has an interview with David Fleer, prof of Bible and Communication at Lipscomb University.

Among his observations are that folks in Churches of Christ

“have some healthy instincts when it comes to the intersection of preaching and Scripture.  We look for more than a proof text to support a preconceived notion.  We long for understandings and life-changing commitments that emerge from the biblical text.  We celebrate a fresh encounter with the world envisioned in the Bible.”

and these three basic points (I’m summarizing below) when answering the question ‘What are the elements of a good sermon?’:

Does the sermon reflect preparation that has taken the preacher to the text, to stay in the text long enough for meaning to surface?…Does the sermon move the congregation into the world Scripture envisions, not just objectively walking like an archaeologist with spade and pail around a passage, but moving into the heat and challenge of biblical reality?…and Does the preacher ‘get it heard?’ That’s something other than just getting it said (reflecting on the great work of Fred Craddock).

And his thoughts on using PowerPoint in sermons:

PowerPoint can be an excellent teaching tool.  But sermons are meant to do more than teach.  The church’s first homiletic declared that while teaching is a “necessity” and pleasing a “sweetness,” a sermon that persuades is “the victory.”…As we begin to recover the sermon’s pleasing elements and persuading qualities, in an attempt to say and do what the biblical text under consideration is saying and doing, PowerPoint works against us, underscoring the preacher’s technological savvy and limiting the experience to learning material (while leaving lives unchanged). 

I think the best thing he said was his final point about what makes for a good sermon:

Does the sermon matter?  Are the weightier matters of life and Bible reflected in the sermon?  Life is too short and the times too critical to miss God’s deepest concerns.

Amen and amen.

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4 thoughts on “David Fleer on Preaching, Christian Chronicle, January 2009

  1. Having spent a chunk of my military career mastering the use of PowerPoint in many unmemorable briefings, I can attest that the use of it is seductive.

    Seductive, in that the easy misuse of it leads to a presentation that can be not much more than misinformative; whereas, the more challenging use of it to complement an already effective presentation is more difficult to achieve.

    Put another way, graphic media is designed to shorten a presentation, when time is tight and the intended audience has – for whatever reason – an abbreviated attention span. Material that won’t get into the presentation due to time, but which needs to get to the audience due to importance, goes into the slides.

    A good sermon – by its very nature – has the ability to overcome attention span issues; as such, PowerPoint is an unnecessary addition.

  2. Trying to find the David Fleer interview on line and having no success. Wondering if you could post a link directly to the article rather than just the Chronicle.

    Thanks

  3. Hi Brian,

    The article isn’t online (yet?). I checked before I posted my note, and again just now, but it isn’t there. If you’d like, I can mail a hard copy to you.

  4. I appreciate the offer. I wanted to email a copy to some friends. I’ll keep looking for it to show up online.

    Don’t want to bug you, but wondering if you can get me the citation for that worship quote you had a while back.

    Thanks

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