Do You Really Believe What You Preach?

There is no higher privilege in all of creation than the call to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To be granted the opportunity to share with others the great claims and challenges of the scriptures is not to be taken lightly.  With this being said one must never forget one’s fidelity to integrity.  The authenticity of one’s preaching hangs on the character of the preacher and the integrity of the preacher’s proclamation.  Whenever the preacher prepares for public discourse there are two critical questions that must be raised.  The first is whether or not one has been led to the text by the Holy Spirit as opposed to simply selecting a passage that appeals to one’s bias.  The second interrogative one must raise is the issue of whether or not one truly believes what the text is propagating.  One cannot preach with passion and authenticity if one does not deeply embrace what that scripture is seeking to convey.  Integrity and character can never be divorced from the preacher’s person as well as his or her proclamation.

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us!”

These are the words of Luke – the third Gospel writer in canonical New Testament writ.  Luke was a close friend and companion of the Apostle Paul, and as a Greek, is the only Gentile author in the New Testament.  What he says in the dawning verse of his thoughtful gospel has always intrigued me.  It is Luke’s desire to set forth in print his understanding of our Lord’s life and work based upon the certainty of convictions well entrenched in the body of Christian believers and held as true and undeniable.  Luke writes around A.D. 60 about thirty years following the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.  While he certainly along with Matthew had a copy of Mark’s gospel before him, does not preclude the fact that Luke is seeking to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that allows for those who read it to get a clear and comprehensive understanding of what Christians undeniably believe. In other words, Luke is suggesting in this one pregnant verse that what one is about to read exceeds conjecture and is agreed upon by those who have chosen to follow the Galilean and trumpet His message.  To read Luke’s account of the Carpenter from Nazareth is to hear the heart and mind of one who truly believes Jesus is the Christ and the universal sacrifice of all humankind.

Christian preaching aught never be void of passion.  There is nothing more disheartening than listening to a passionless preacher!  The passion of the preacher has at its root the sense that the preacher really believes what he or she preaches.  As was told to me long years ago in the morning of my ministry by a seasoned preacher – “You are always on firm ground when preaching certainties!”

Among the many challenges facing the pulpit today are two in my thinking.  The first is the problem of capitulating to the culture – preaching those popular themes that create crowds, but do little to help in crises.  The second problem is on the heels of the first – preaching for effect or effectiveness.  Preaching with integrity demands that one always seeks to be effective in Gospel proclamation and not simply for effect.

Every believer in Jesus Christ and any preacher of His gospel must beg the question – “What do I really believe?”  “In my heart of hearts, do I really believe what I am declaring?”  These are the critical questions with which one must wrestle whenever we stand to declare His word.  What are the Christian convictions “most surely believed among us today?”

Dr. Charles E. Booth

I was mentored by Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor….

I do not believe that any serious thinking preacher will disagree with me when I make the claim that there is more than one approach to the preaching of the Gospel. In recent years there have been preaching conferences across the nation with the sole focus on biblical exposition. Certainly in the preparation of the sermonic discourse there should be exposition and exegesis. However, expository preaching isn’t the only genre in the preaching enterprise. There is the dialectical method; the didactic approach; narrative proclamation; doctrinal preaching; the deductive method (Aristotle) the inductive method (Fred Craddock); moves and structures (David Buttrick); four pages of the sermon (Paul Scott Wilson) – just to name a few. My aforementioned listing is by no means exhaustive. I am certain you can quickly add to this list.

It is our attempt in this the ninth year of this preaching conference to explore some of the methods we employ in the preaching enterprise. I invite you to seriously examine your approach to preaching preparation as well as being open to other possibilities. I remember when beginning my studies for the Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary under the mentoring of Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor and his insistence that whatever method used in preaching the dialectic is apparent. It was his belief, and I concur, that every sermon must have a proposition – a guiding norm that must be exposed in one declarative sentence. The dialectical method simply seeks to make the tension in the text between the thesis and the antithesis. Every sermon seeks to answer a relevant question in the selected text as one moves towards resolving the tension that the text creates. Whether you agree with this or not I think that you will agree with me that every Gospel message is about the task of wrestling with an idea whose premise and answers are couched within the selected passage(s) of scripture. We must never forget that the preaching of the Gospel is not about personal opinion, but the begging of the question – “Is there a Word from the Lord?”

Our biblical foundation for this year’s conference is found in I Corinthians 3:1-9 in which the Apostle Paul steers the Corinthian mindset away from human personality to the Christ whose dictates we are called upon to declare. Listen to the converted tentmaker from Tarsus –

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another,
“I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only
servants, through whom you came to believe – as the
Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed,
Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is
anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
(I Corinthians 3:4-7) NIV

Regardless of the genre we use in preaching there is only one objective – to glorify God and allow him to make the truth of the Gospel grow in the life of the scholar. It is not the attempt of this conference to suggest or ever imply that one method of preaching is superior to another. Any method is valid as long as the Gospel they preached authentically deals with the text(s).

Across the years we have heard and mentioned various forms and styles of preaching and there can be no denial that all have been effective in their own right. Let us listen attentively and glean from this year’s presenters as they unveil their particular perspective when it comes to the preparation and proclamation of the Gospel.

Dr. Charles E. Booth

I do not believe that any serious thinking preacher will disagree with me….

I do not believe that any serious thinking preacher will disagree with me when I make the claim that there is more than one approach to the preaching of the Gospel. In recent years there have been preaching conferences across the nation with the sole focus on biblical exposition. Certainly in the preparation of the sermonic discourse there should be exposition and exegesis. However, expository preaching isn’t the only genre in the preaching enterprise. There is the dialectical method; the didactic approach; narrative proclamation; doctrinal preaching; the deductive method (Aristotle) the inductive method (Fred Craddock); moves and structures (David Buttrick); four pages of the sermon (Paul Scott Wilson) – just to name a few. My aforementioned listing is by no means exhaustive. I am certain you can quickly add to this list.

It is our attempt in this the ninth year of this preaching conference to explore some of the methods we employ in the preaching enterprise. I invite you to seriously examine your approach to preaching preparation as well as being open to other possibilities. I remember when beginning my studies for the Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary under the mentoring of Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor and his insistence that whatever method used in preaching the dialectic is apparent. It was his belief, and I concur, that every sermon must have a proposition – a guiding norm that must be exposed in one declarative sentence. The dialectical method simply seeks to make the tension in the text between the thesis and the antithesis. Every sermon seeks to answer a relevant question in the selected text as one moves towards resolving the tension that the text creates. Whether you agree with this or not I think that you will agree with me that every Gospel message is about the task of wrestling with an idea whose premise and answers are couched within the selected passage(s) of scripture. We must never forget that the preaching of the Gospel is not about personal opinion, but the begging of the question – “Is there a Word from the Lord?”

Our biblical foundation for this year’s conference is found in I Corinthians 3:1-9 in which the Apostle Paul steers the Corinthian mindset away from human personality to the Christ whose dictates we are called upon to declare. Listen to the converted tentmaker from Tarsus –

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another,
“I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only
servants, through whom you came to believe – as the
Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed,
Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is
anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
(I Corinthians 3:4-7) NIV

Regardless of the genre we use in preaching there is only one objective – to glorify God and allow him to make the truth of the Gospel grow in the life of the scholar. It is not the attempt of this conference to suggest or ever imply that one method of preaching is superior to another. Any method is valid as long as the Gospel they preached authentically deals with the text(s).

Across the years we have heard and mentioned various forms and styles of preaching and there can be no denial that all have been effective in their own right. Let us listen attentively and glean from this year’s presenters as they unveil their particular perspective when it comes to the preparation and proclamation of the Gospel.

Dr. Charles E. Booth

Happy New Year!

Every blessing upon you and yours as we embark upon an odyssey of a new year.  As we venture into the unknown of 2019, we do so knowing that we hold the hand of the One who guides the future. As our Lord has led us in the past, so he will do in the days to come.  Accept the adventure of walking with him in faith knowing that what is before us is going to be far better then what is behind us.
Happy New Year!
Dr. Charles E. Booth and First Lady Crystal Booth

Revisiting Different Genres of Preaching!

I do not believe that any serious thinking preacher will disagree with me when I make the claim that there is more than one approach to the preaching of the Gospel. In recent years there have been preaching conferences across the nation with the sole focus on biblical exposition. Certainly in the preparation of the sermonic discourse there should be exposition and exegesis. However, expository preaching isn’t the only genre in the preaching enterprise. There is the dialectical method; the didactic approach; narrative proclamation; doctrinal preaching; the deductive method (Aristotle) the inductive method (Fred Craddock); moves and structures (David Buttrick); four pages of the sermon (Paul Scott Wilson) – just to name a few. My aforementioned listing is by no means exhaustive. I am certain you can quickly add to this list.

It is our attempt in this the ninth year of this preaching conference to explore some of the methods we employ in the preaching enterprise. I invite you to seriously examine your approach to preaching preparation as well as being open to other possibilities. I remember when beginning my studies for the Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary under the mentoring of Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor and his insistence that whatever method used in preaching the dialectic is apparent. It was his belief, and I concur, that every sermon must have a proposition – a guiding norm that must be exposed in one declarative sentence. The dialectical method simply seeks to make the tension in the text between the thesis and the antithesis. Every sermon seeks to answer a relevant question in the selected text as one moves towards resolving the tension that the text creates. Whether you agree with this or not I think that you will agree with me that every Gospel message is about the task of wrestling with an idea whose premise and answers are couched within the selected passage(s) of scripture. We must never forget that the preaching of the Gospel is not about personal opinion, but the begging of the question – “Is there a Word from the Lord?”

Our biblical foundation for this year’s conference is found in I Corinthians 3:1-9 in which the Apostle Paul steers the Corinthian mindset away from human personality to the Christ whose dictates we are called upon to declare. Listen to the converted tentmaker from Tarsus –

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another,
“I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only
servants, through whom you came to believe – as the
Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed,
Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is
anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
(I Corinthians 3:4-7) NIV

Regardless of the genre we use in preaching there is only one objective – to glorify God and allow him to make the truth of the Gospel grow in the life of the scholar. It is not the attempt of this conference to suggest or ever imply that one method of preaching is superior to another. Any method is valid as long as the Gospel they preached authentically deals with the text(s).

Across the years we have heard and mentioned various forms and styles of preaching and there can be no denial that all have been effective in their own right. Let us listen attentively and glean from this year’s presenters as they unveil their particular perspective when it comes to the preparation and proclamation of the Gospel.

Dr. Charles E. Booth

A Suggested Reading List

Preaching – Fred Craddock: Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985.

The Web of Preaching – Richard Eslinger: Abingdon Press, 2002.

The Journey and Promise of African-American Preaching – Kenyatta Gilbert: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, 2011.

The Heart of Black Preaching – Cleophus J. LaRue: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.

The Four Pages of the Sermon: A Guide to Biblical Preaching – Paul Scott Wilson: Abingdon Press, 2018.

 

“Do You Really Believe What You Preach?”

There is no higher privilege in all of creation than the call to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To be granted the opportunity to share with others the great claims and challenges of the scriptures is not to be taken lightly.  With this being said one must never forget one’s fidelity to integrity.  The authenticity of one’s preaching hangs on the character of the preacher and the integrity of the preacher’s proclamation.  Whenever the preacher prepares for public discourse there are two critical questions that must be raised.  The first is whether or not one has been led to the text by the Holy Spirit as opposed to simply selecting a passage that appeals to one’s bias.  The second interrogative one must raise is the issue of whether or not one truly believes what the text is propagating.  One cannot preach with passion and authenticity if one does not deeply embrace what that scripture is seeking to convey.  Integrity and character can never be divorced from the preacher’s person as well as his or her proclamation.

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us!”

These are the words of Luke – the third Gospel writer in canonical New Testament writ.  Luke was a close friend and companion of the Apostle Paul, and as a Greek, is the only Gentile author in the New Testament.  What he says in the dawning verse of his thoughtful gospel has always intrigued me.  It is Luke’s desire to set forth in print his understanding of our Lord’s life and work based upon the certainty of convictions well entrenched in the body of Christian believers and held as true and undeniable.  Luke writes around A.D. 60 about thirty years following the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.  While he certainly along with Matthew had a copy of Mark’s gospel before him, does not preclude the fact that Luke is seeking to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that allows for those who read it to get a clear and comprehensive understanding of what Christians undeniably believe. In other words, Luke is suggesting in this one pregnant verse that what one is about to read exceeds conjecture and is agreed upon by those who have chosen to follow the Galilean and trumpet His message.  To read Luke’s account of the Carpenter from Nazareth is to hear the heart and mind of one who truly believes Jesus is the Christ and the universal sacrifice of all humankind.

Christian preaching aught never be void of passion.  There is nothing more disheartening than listening to a passionless preacher!  The passion of the preacher has at its root the sense that the preacher really believes what he or she preaches.  As was told to me long years ago in the morning of my ministry by a seasoned preacher – “You are always on firm ground when preaching certainties!”

Among the many challenges facing the pulpit today are two in my thinking.  The first is the problem of capitulating to the culture – preaching those popular themes that create crowds, but do little to help in crises.  The second problem is on the heels of the first – preaching for effect or effectiveness.  Preaching with integrity demands that one always seeks to be effective in Gospel proclamation and not simply for effect.

Every believer in Jesus Christ and any preacher of His gospel must beg the question – “What do I really believe?”  “In my heart of hearts, do I really believe what I am declaring?”  These are the critical questions with which one must wrestle whenever we stand to declare His word.  What are the Christian convictions “most surely believed among us today?”

Dr. Charles E. Booth

A Charge to Keep I have…

Today is a special day in my life and ministry. I want to pay homage to our God for His keeping grace and guiding Spirit in this my 54th year as a Gospel preacher. I heeded the call to preach at the early age of 17 while in my senior year in high school. I shall never forget that Friday night, October 16, 1964 when I preached my initial sermon in the weekly prayer meeting of my home church – the Enon Baptist Church of Baltimore, Maryland. When I think back to that moment, I am yet greatly humbled by the fact that the Lord laid his hands upon me and anointed me to preach His glorious Gospel. I did not feel worthy then and I do not feel worthy now. However, by the grace of Jesus Christ, I have sought to honor Him and make full proof of my ministry which now spans over a half century.

I pause to thank God because his journey is marked by the presence and the power of God who has kept me across these many years. I am especially grateful to God for He has sustained me across these latter years when I have had to face very serious health challenges. When I consider that this last illness I faced had the capacity to kill me. It was only the Lord who spared me! I owe Him everything! I have always been committed to the sacred task of ministry, but I am now, more than ever, determined to live and preach for Christ who has given me the “life and that more abundantly.”

Thank you to the Mt. Olivet for the blessing of allowing me to be your undershepherd for 40 years. You are precious to me and I continue to solicit your prayers in the days to come. The words of Charles Wesley yet encourage me –

“A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
Who gave His Sone my soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.”

The Autumn Leaves

The autumn leaves are following and there is the hint of fall in the air.  These realities remind us that the doors of our institutions of higher learning are once again open as students return from their summer hiatus to again satisfy their hunger for study and learning.  I can never stress enough the importance of education – both secular and sacred. It was Bishop Daniel Payne of the AME church who declared more than a century ago that “the only thing that separates the oppressed from the oppressor.”  Education is indispensable in the fast and every changing error of technology.  Once upon a time it was thought that a high school diploma was sufficient for getting employment.  No longer true!  A college degree today is simply an entry-level requirement as one pursues a career or profession.

Whether we seek blue or white collar employment there must be preparation.  We as Christians are mandated to be students of the secular as well as the sacred.  We live in the real world and while we are, as Augustine wrote, “resident aliens”.  It is God’s design that we function in this realm with knowledge and understanding.  It is from the lips of the savior that these words come – “take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30).

May this fall season unfold the beauty and excitement of learning in ways never before imagined.

God bless!  Dr Charles E. Booth