Fear and Loathing in Deerfield

Last week the Evangelical Homiletics Society (http://www.ehomiletics.com/) held its annual meeting at Trinity International University. I don’t attend the EHS conference as often as I should, partly because they meet at a difficult time in the semester and partly because I don’t enjoy traveling (probably more the latter than the former).

This year, however, I not only attended, I presented a paper entitled “Prophet, Priest or Stand-Up Comedian? The Priestly Role of the Sermon.” The environment of the EHS is wonderfully supportive, not at all like some other meetings where academics gather. Perhaps this is because the EHS isn’t made up solely of academics. It is a society of preachers. The atmosphere is collegial and the attendees are interested and encouraging.

Still, I found the experience unnerving. I finished feeling a great sense of ambivalence, torn between a desire to run away and hide in shame and a compulsion to stand at the door with a sheepish grin in a desperate bid for compliments. I walked away promising myself that I would “never try that again.”

But then, if you ever done any preaching, you know exactly how I felt. It’s pretty much the same after every sermon. I finish the message feeling a curious mixture of relief, self-loathing and insecurity. Basically, preaching is like being in the 8th grade…FOREVER. Lately I’ve been thinking about giving it up. But I doubt that would make me feel any better.

One of my former students has started a Facebook group devoted to discussing matters related to preaching. Sounds like fun! Check it out at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Biblical-Exposition-MBI/136375829745690

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

2 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in Deerfield”

  1. I’ve come to realize that a public speaker, no matter what the content or topic will always deal with insecurity. You are the only one in the room speaking. And so many are judging you (it seems) more or less by whether or not you give a bang-up presentation and whether or not they agree with you.

    I think that a little insecurity is a good thing, especially when we are sharing the Word. It keeps us humble, broken, and teachable.

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