Critical reviews (by Lutheran pastors and church musicians) of books and other resources for Christian worship, preaching, and church music from a perspective rooted in Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and good common sense. LHP Quarterly Book Review asks, "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?"
FW: Comment on Advice For Aspiring Preachers by Alan Kornacki
Feed: Comments for CyberBrethren - A Lutheran Blog Posted on: Thursday, May 03, 2012 7:16 AM Author: Alan Kornacki Subject: Comment on Advice For Aspiring Preachers by Alan Kornacki
An online acquaintance of mine had posted a translation of a snippet from Prof. Fr. Streckfuß in a document titled "The Preparation of the Sermon". He writes: In our Lutheran Church it was always the principle that the preacher must preach freely, that is, that he should not read. Our Lutheran hearers do not like reading. It is a well known fact that there was once a preacher who read every Sunday, came to one of his hearers, who just read the prophet Isaiah. The preacher asked the man: "What do you make of it?" The man gave his answer: "I prophecy." The preacher said "My dear man, you want to say: 'I read prophecies.' " "Well", replied the hearer, "If you say on Sunday that you preach, when you read, then I can surely say, when I read prophecies, that I prophecy." The preacher took that to heart and from that moment on never again read, but preached. How much our people are taken against reading the sermon, I myself once experienced in a professional manner. A congregation that I served as a vacancy pastor finally appointed a pastor after several failed attempts who was recommended very warmly by the district president. I did not know the pastor personally, but what I had heard of him already also moved me to stand by him as the right man. I mailed the call document and cover letter to him. After about a week I received a letter from the pastor in which he told me that he had the letter; but at the same time he wrote that he, before he would accept the call, the congregation was to reveal something; as an honest man he felt in his conscience obliged. And what was that? He wrote that he could not preach free. Indeed he could speak freely at the altar, but no sermon in the pulpit; he had to read the sermon. He had tried it more often without a manuscript at the ready in the pulpit, but he was stuck almost every time. I should now say this to the congregation. If the congregation would now take him, he was gladly willing to come; but if not, then he would return the call. When I told this to the congregation, they decided unanimously to ask the pastor to return the call because they did not want a "meter reader". It was better to stay vacant one year longer that have a pastor that did not preach free. I reported this to the pastor and he sent the call back.
On a related note, another online acquaintance writing in response related the fact that his homiletics professor, a former district president, kept a set of crutches on his wall for students who required a manuscript to preach. Fritz in his pastoral theology assumes that the pastor memorizes his sermon (p.99), so he never mentions the alternative.
I'm of the opinion that a man who can preach without a manuscript–and I mean, really preach, not just recite a sermon from memory–is truly the recipient of a double blessing from God. My first fieldwork supervisor in seminary could preach for 25 minutes without a manuscript, and he was a compelling Lutheran preacher. The Lord did not bless me in this way. He did, however, bless me with the ability to write the way I speak: in a generally clear, easy to understand manner. Nevertheless, when I get too far from my manuscript, I lose my train of thought. Does it make me a less-skilled preacher? Possibly? Is the use of a manuscript less than ideal? I'll cede the point. Should it be a reason for a congregation to avoid calling a certain pastor? That's up to the calling congregation, of course, though I'd have to wonder what other expectations they'd have of the man they'd eventually Call. Should a man aspiring to the pastoral office be belittled–treated as a pastoral cripple–by a homiletics professor, a mentor, other pastors, because he uses a manuscript? By no means.
Why do we bind the consciences of men who aspire to the preaching office with requirements beyond what Scripture demands? It is an already weighty load. Why do we call into question the ability of the Holy Spirit to adequately equip the men Called to be prophets of the Most High? The Lord of the harvest sends men into the field with a variety of gifts. These various gifts allow them to do a myriad of things, all of them in service to the Kingdom.
Those men whom the Lord calls, He equips as He chooses. Let the Spirit do His work unquestioned and unhindered; and let the men He has called serve as He has equipped them, whatever those tools may be.