Luther on Preaching


Luther preaching Throughout history God has used the spoken word to transform lives.  Preaching has been an avenue that the holy spirit has worked through for thousands of years.  Certainly over these years, many elements of preaching has changed.  The context of the preaching is significantly different than it once was, yet at the same time many elements of preaching have held true over time.

The great reformer, Martin Luther was not only a fan of preaching, but specifically of preahcing simple and clear sermons.  Luther commonly would not concern himself with spending time educating about Hebrew and Greek words, but instead explain the same words in everyday language.  In a time where the wealth of information that is accessible at the click of a button, I think we must be reminded that our goal shouldn't be to say everything we can about a subject, but to teach one thing in a clear, simple way.

"To preach plain and simple is a great art: Christ himself talks of tilling ground, of mustard seed, etc; he uses altogether homely anad similitudes.  Cursed are all preachers that in the church aim at high and hard things, and neglecting the saving health of the poor unlearned people, seek their own honor and praise...When I preach, I sink myself deep down.  I regard neither Doctors or Magistrates, of whom, are here in this church above forty; but I have my eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whome are more than 2000.  I preach to those."  - Martin Luther

The Art of Preaching

I love to preach.  I love standing in front of my whiteboard during the week and start writing and sketching out my ideas for the sermon that's in my head.  I love getting up in front of our students on a Sunday morning or one of our retreats and opening up the scripture together.  When Luther speaks of preaching in a plan and simple way, he describes it as great art.  Anybody can come up with something to say, but to say it simply... that's art.  Anybody can talk about the hypostatic union of Christ (well, maybe not anybody), but to do it in a way that doesn't put a twelve year old to sleep and instead engages him...that's art.

My hope as I continue to preach to our students is that I don't get caught up into try to spew out all the information that I can learn, but to craft messages that speak clearly and simply.  That I can like a great artist leave piles of great ideas behind for the sake of saying one thing really well.

What's the most difficult part  for you about preaching plain and simple?

Photo Credit: John14:6

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