Celebration in Preaching

Brian Christopher Coulter —  July 14, 2014

BCCI am just about to complete another 2.5 weeks in Chicago as a student of the ACTS DMin in Preaching Program (an excellent doctoral program for those of you who might be interested!!)

As a student of this program, I have been blessed with the opportunity to sit down with some of the great minds in the homiletic world to discuss theories and practices like the theology behind proclamation, the structures and models for sermons, why leadership from the pulpit matters, how to better embody the sermon, and what it means to preach the good news. Great stuff!!

One of the courses I took this last round was “Preaching as Celebration” led by Dr Frank Thomas. He teaches that all preaching should culminate with the celebration of the good news discovered in each text or the larger narrative of scripture – and that people will always better remember that which they celebrate.

Thomas says that each sermon needs to have a narrative arc to it and that we need to rely on better structure to enable us to celebrate in our preaching. He would have us first describe the SITUATION in the text or in our world that we will begin with, then talk about the COMPLICATION that takes place within that initial setting, which leads us deeper into the text to find God’s RESOLUTION to that issue, which should then naturally lead us into a CELEBRATION of the good news we discovered.

I really like this approach.

But I really struggle with this approach.

Do I celebrate in my preaching? What could celebration look like in my sermons? How can I better build a structure to lead into celebration? Thomas has stirred a holy wrestling within me and I will continue to process his ideas and these questions for the coming year.

He played this video for us in class that he created in collaboration with the SALT project [WARNING: it is a tough, very real video to watch with a graphic image and an edgy nature]. It tells the story behind the famous Billie Holiday song “Strange Fruit” and he offered this up to us as an example of his SITUATION – COMPLICATION – RESOLUTION – CELEBRATION structure. Dr Thomas is the first person to speak on this video. Could you see the structure? Could you hear the celebration towards the end? What do you think?

Strange Fruit from SALT Project on Vimeo.

Brian Christopher Coulter

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Brian is currently serving at First Presbyterian Church in Aiken, South Carolina. Brian is a husband, father, pastor, author of BE HOLY, and a ping-pong champion.