I am in Chicago this week at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where I'm a student in the Doctor of Ministry program. My concentration is in preaching and thus my current course is called "Increasing Clarity and Relevance in Preaching." It's taught by Dr. Don Sunukjian of Talbot Theological Seminary who wrote the book Invitation to Biblical Preaching: Proclaiming Truth with Clarity and Relevance (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007). Here's a pic of the two of us between sessions.
Dr. Sunukjian is a seasoned pastor, preacher, and professor, and his book is essentially the overflow of his life in ministry. His passion is to equip pastors to preach in such a way that their preaching is always faithful to the text of Scripture and relevant to those who hear it. I hesitate to use the word "relevant" in describing his point of view, although he himself uses it, because he doesn't mean by this word what most leaders in our day mean. Others use the word to mean "entertaining" or something like that but he uses it to mean "God and his Word have a direct relation to my life right now." He uses it to mean that God not only "spoke to those people back in the Bible times" but he's "speaking to us, right here and right now."
In order to give people a God-honoring, palpable sense that God is speaking, the preacher must study hard and pray long and tether every part of the message to the Word. Otherwise, the sermon is no longer a sermon but something else.
It's been a good class thus far. I feel as though I'm sitting at the feet of a wise, older brother in Christ, learning how to serve God and his people with greater effectiveness and joy. More tomorrow, thanks for praying!