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There’s a willingness to “go there,” to “tell it like it is.” At its best, Black preaching confronts and challenges–both the powers that be and the people in the seat. Be careful not to lift your finger to point unless you’re pointing at a text in context.
And it’s always a good idea to illustrate the Bible with illustrations from the Bible.
I can hear my college literature professor, Karla Holloway, saying to me, “Thabiti, show; don’t tell.” So rather than simply saying, “Men, flee from sexual immorality,” illustrate the point with the story of Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife, or David failing to flee from Bathsheba, or the vivid storied imagery of Proverbs.
In other words, so-called “black preaching” comes in many styles and variations.
Moreover, the various techniques and approaches could be very edifying when used well or just as problematic when executed poorly.
But beware the sermon that’s all stories all the time.
Beware the temptation to fill the sermon with anecdotes and tales that really have nothing to do with the point of the text. Three Points and a Poem—Good preaching of any sort relies on good structure and flow.When you’re laughing or “amen”-ing but can’t locate the preacher’s thought or subject in the text, that’s another tip-off that you’re not likely to get an exposition but a flight of fancy. The white space provided by that well-timed pause is like lighting the fuse to a keg of anticipatory dynamite. Some sermons could have been cut in half if the preacher had just preached rather than hem and haw so much.Dramatic Pause—Some people seem to go to church to leave church. Use of Story—Ours is an oral, story-telling culture.Or, does it take the listener off in other directions, perhaps placing a cherry atop a text that requires tears? We need never fear genuine emotion—and we ought to assume the Spirit of God will use the word of God to excite expounded.The first, a woman who just found out she’s pregnant after eight years of trying, may stretch her arms to heaven and shout “Hallelujah.” Meanwhile, the second, a man recently diagnosed with cancer, may fall to his knees with head bowed and say “Nevertheless not my will.” Or they may both sit with heads bowed in quiet, tearful prayer–same posture, different emotion.And, for me, what matters in tuning, whooping, singing, humming, moaning, rasping or plain talking your way to the close of the sermon is not the particular style, but whether .Whatever form it takes, does the close expose the content, mood and feeling of the text? The virtue of traditional closings is their full embrace of emotion in preaching and worship.” He replied with a wry smile, “At least one.” A sermon without points is a pointless sermon.Every good point stated and made from the text is a nail driven to anchor the feet of our people to the Bible.Over the past couple months, I’ve had the privilege to talk with a couple of seminarians concentrating on preaching.In both cases, they’ve wanted to talk about the distinctives of African-American preaching and what it contributes to our understanding of effective proclamation.