Why do preachers preach? I asked a few seminary instructors and preachers why they step up each worship service and share their wisdom and research with the congregation. Some of their responses:
To offer grace.
To teach the faith.
To give hope.
To lead people into deeper relationship with God.
To draw the rich wisdom from scripture.
To find a sense of identity, mission, and purpose for congregations and ourselves.
To help congregations come to terms with their role in supporting repressive attitudes and behaviors.
To encourage followers to reflect on their own lives.
To start a dialogue on the issues we face.
To make sense of our lives.
To challenge our beliefs about our lives and the world.
To remember God is still speaking, so we need to speak too.
To ensure the Bible is still alive in our lives.
To think critically about biblical teachings, God, the church, and the world.
To create communities that hold respect, authenticity, and concern for the common good as core values.
To understand the meaning of God’s work in the world.
To help listeners experience the liberating truth of the gospel, which is more powerful than any social or political reality that might try to contain it.
Wes Allen at Perkins School of Theology wrote, “We must also preach to lead the church to participate in God’s redemptive work in transforming the world with divine love, justice, and peace as envisioned in the Hebrew Bible prophets and Jesus’s proclamation of the reign of God.” In other words, to call out what’s wrong with the world and to proclaim boldly what will make it right.
That’s the focus of Preaching as Resistance: Voices of Hope, Justice, and Solidarity , available now from Chalice Press.
Last December, Phil Snider sent an email suggesting a collection of sermons delivered in response to the sea change in American politics in 2017, a year that saw repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act, harsh travel bans and changes in immigration policies, slashing of environmental regulations, gun violence continuing unabated and unchallenged by lawmakers, racism on parade in Charlottesville, and so many more affronts to progressive Christian values. That many high-profile voices in Christianity were, at times, championing these causes motivated us to present the other side of the story.
As we dreamed about this book, we knew the voices needed to be as diverse as possible. Phil delivered: the 30 authors included in the book resemble the American population regarding gender presentation, sexual orientation, and race. The denominational backgrounds encompass many of the mainline denominations and beyond. Represented are big-steeple congregations and little country churches, as well as the academy, from across the country. There’s a ton of diversity in this book, but what unites these preachers is the pressing need for each of us to find the courage to stand up to injustice.
A few weeks ago we sent an email previewing Preaching as Resistance , and we received a response saying what we need is less politics in the pulpit. This emailer seemed to fear the church would lose people because political sermons divide members. He believed church should be a haven from politics. I understand where he is coming from. I disagree, but I understand. Preaching as Resistancemay not be right for your church or your ministry or your listeners.
But for those who seek a prophetic call to justice, for those who crave words of encouragement in hard times, for those who bristle when unspeakable acts are inflicted in the so-called name of faith, and for those who seek to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God, Preaching as Resistance may be just what you need.
President and Publisher