Preachers: Listener…then Speaker

David Gibson has this to say about ‘preachers’:


1)   In coming to the text, preachers bring a pre-understanding-horizon that shapes their perception of the text-horizon. However, the text is capable of reshaping the preacher’s understanding so that repeated exposure to the text results in a closer approximation of its message. Much like conversation with a good friend deepens understanding, so constant listening to the text allows the exegete to “spiral in” on its meaning.

2)   “Expository preaching demands that preachers allow their pre-understanding of the text to be confronted by the text, lest they serve only themselves in their preaching. …The implication is that distorting the Word is a real possibility. The preacher is required to be a listener before being a speaker, for only a clear grasp of the text’s other-ness will prevent distorting it into the preacher’s mold.

3)   “To listen and to listen well takes time. A lot of time. This means that where preachers do not protect sermon preparation time with prosecuting zeal, the end result of the sermon will be the work of those who speak before they listen. The sermon will reveal the kind of people who think they know best before they’ve heard both sides of an argument-the text will be handled in ways that ignore its details and nuances and miss its structure or surprises.

4)   “One of the clearest signs of a sermon not born out of sensitive listening is that the congregation actually gets more Bible, not less, as the preacher draws on a reservoir of knowledge to speak about the text, expanding it, but does not explain the text, expounding it.

5)   “It is conceivable that the preacher’s approach to the sermon text will go hand in hand with the approach to other facets of the ministry. Where the sermons are under-prepared and ill-conceived, so too pastoral relationships will often be underdeveloped and stunted, because genuine listening as a moral imperative is not being adopted as intrinsic to the theological task. The minister will very likely be hurried and busy, an activist, and on the fast-track to becoming a church manager doing God’s work rather than a preacher speaking God’s Word.


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