In an age of alternative facts, a preacher has to be in touch with what her or his Sunday hearers imbibe from various electronic and paper outlets. A preacher who gets messages doctrinally sound but disregards the goings-on in the public square will not meet the people where they are and will not appropriately discern the itch that requires the appropriate “homiletical” scratch.
The preacher makes covenant with God but is always accountable to the people of the congregation who acknowledged the preacher’s call. Parishioners arrive at church with all sorts of commentary running through their minds after a week of social networking, hearing the breaking news of the day – the Supreme Court rules to overturn Roe v. Wade . . . open-carry gun laws have been relaxed in the most restrictive states like New York . . . U. S. Congress has voted to close the “boyfriend loophole” – or witnessing protests because some gross injustice has occurred and brought injury upon a select group of people, or after watching a high dose of televangelism without regard to whether it coheres with the local minister’s theology.
In most historically Black worship settings, if there’s some highly publicized tragedy, local or national, the preacher is expected to at least call the matter to the congregation’s attention. Though preachers can’t reconfigure their homiletical assignments each week, the preacher who ignores public issues and tragic events or brushes them under the carpet will often be thought of as closed off from the chaotic, disorienting, and deathly world parishioners live in from Sunday to Sunday.
Adapted and excerpted from Kenyatta Gilbert’s Exodus Preaching: Crafting Sermons about Justice and Hope. For autographed copies, visit The Preaching Project Store
Take a moment and read these articles, which address the aforementioned public issues: