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Home » The Preacher's Studio

The Preacher’s Studio: Dale Meyer

Submitted by on November 9, 2011 – 9:07 am4 Comments

The journey from text to pulpit can be a long and winding road, filled with false starts, surprising discoveries, and hard choices along the way. On a semi-regular basis, the homiletics faculty of Concordia Seminary invites you to walk the road with the preacher in the Preacher’s Studio series. Each sermon was preached during chapel services at the Seminary. Afterward, the campus community was invited to eat lunch with the preacher, to talk about the sermon, its preparation and execution, and dialogue about the art of preaching. We welcome you to a seat at the table.

Preacher: Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary and professor of homiletics in the department of practical theology. (Text: John 6:35-40)

Moderator: David Schmitt, Gregg H. Benidt Chair in Homiletics and Literature, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Chapel Sermon:

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Preacher’s Studio Video:

The audio and video files can also be downloaded at Concordia Seminary’s iTunes U site.

4 Comments »

  • Larry McGurer says:

    I certainly agree with Dr. Meyer that it is critical that we preachers get to the application for our listeners, and do so quickly. However, in my experience there is a greater craving for textual exposition than he seems to suggest. As I offer my two-cents please know I do so humbly being that there is no question that I, a pastor of five years, have no right to critique a preacher of such great renown as Dr. Meyer.

    I serve in a congregation that is currently bringing in about twenty new members a quarter. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds (unchurched, dechurched, transfers, etc.). I do hear one common theme though – the reason people choose to join our congregation is because we consistently preach from the Bible. I realize that “preaching from the Bible” is not synonymous with textual exposition, but it certainly includes it. As I see it people want to hear what the Scriptures have to say. Our challenge as preachers is to do so in a way that is engaging – easier said than done, I know!

    Also, as I look around the country and see the churches that are having a significant impact in their communities I find that they all preach Scripture in depth and at length – Mars Hill, Seattle and Pastor Mark Driscoll; Bethlehem in the twin cities and Pastor John Piper; Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City with Pastor Tim Keller; The Village in Dallas and Pastor Matt Chandler; The Journey in St. Louis and Pastor Darrin Patrick. These pastors are preaching 35-65 minutes and spending a large portion of that in textual exposition. Of course, I don’t always agree with their interpretation of Scripture, but that’s not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is whether or not people today are willing to listen to textual exposition. I think they are far more willing than we give them credit for. I Our fellow LC-MS brother, Rev. Paul T. McCain, also wrote well on this subject. You can find his article here – http://cyberbrethren.com/2011/10/29/temptations-preachers-face/.

    Again, I hope that this comment comes across as loving, kind, gentle and gracious. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dr. Meyer and his ministry to the church. I just wanted to share my perspective. Your comments are welcome. God bless!

    • Bill Metzger says:

      One thing I have noticed in 30 years of parish ministry is that good preaching is not about quantity, but quality. I have listened to 45-60 minute “verse by verse” expository sermons that are completely devoid of Jesus, the Cross and the Gospel. Was this true biblical exposition? Not if it lacked Jesus, the Cross and the Gospel. On the other end of the spectrum, I have heard ten minute devitionals that were literally dripping with Jesus, the Cross and the Gospel. These devotionals are truly biblical preaching. The sermons in Acts are short (assuming we have a record of the entire message), non-expositional in the contemporary use of that term, and yet are laser-focused on Jesus, the Cross and the Gospel. One thing all proclaimers of Christ must keep in mind: sermons that center on the real Jesus, the real Cross and the real Gospel will bring extremely convoluted “results”. Jesus preached “felt needs” in the first part of John 6 and enjoyed a huge following. He then shifted to the Cross and lost virtually everyone. Seeing this happening, He could have gone back to the obviously “successful” felt needs theme. Instead, He preached the Cross and the Blood even more clearly, no matter how it turned out. Paul knew only one theme when preaching: Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2). I hope that I’m not picking nits, but it seems to me as if the issue is not whether we should be more deliberate in expository preaching, but more focused on preaching Christ crucified. All of this is said in love and grace! My two cents!

  • Sean Green says:

    I think Pastor McGrurer made some interesting points about this Preacher’s Studio broadcast. As a layman in the LCMS, I’ve noticed a few things about how homiletics seems to be done and the style many pastors tend to use. It seems like there is a big trend to be Law-Lite (where sin is only mentioned generically) and then they do an awesome job on the Gospel. Indeed, Law and Gospel must be present and properly distinguished in the sermon. I would suggest that in many sermons, the Law no longer has any teeth. When I read the Lutheran fathers, they didn’t pack any punches when it came to using the Law, convicting people of their sins, and then proclaiming the Gospel.
    The second aspect is that there is little emphasis upon really dealing with the scriptural text. Why are so many of our church members listening to the sermons of pastors outside our church body who spend more than 15 minutes on the biblical text, but go through a text for 40 minutes, verse by verse.Their (outside the LCMS) problems typically fall under a weak distinction between Law and Gospel. So if I were to summarize points in relation to what I heard in this broadcast, would be the following:
    -Bring back the real use of the Law, convicting people of their sins, preaching Repentance (and of course faith)
    -Teach homiletics methods that show future pastors how to write sermons that deal more with the text rather that use abtractions and anecdotes that reflect the text.
    Again, I’m just a layman in the LCMS and only submitting what I have observed, I certainly am thankful for the work both sems do in preparing men for their work in the Ministry.

  • Ben Roberts says:

    One thing Dr. Meyer is bringing up is the familiarity of Scripture. This, I believe, is at the heart of the issue. Many of the churches that Larry brought up are made up of people that don’t know the Bible, either very well or at all. So, where do you, as a pastor, teach them the truth of Holy Scripture? Do you do it at worship, where many people will attend (as opposed to Bible Study, where people should attend, but many don’t), or do you do it at Bible Study, where you don’t stop at 30-60 minutes, but can continue long after that? Dr. Meyer seems to be of a mindset that the people in your pews are mostly the baptized, life-long Lutherans who have been coming to church, hearing sermons, know their Bible, etc., for many years. If the make up of your congregation at worship is different than this, then a longer sermon with more textual exposition might be necessary and desirable.

    There are some other things. 1 Timothy 4:13 separates the “exhortation” and the “teaching”. Will some teaching get into your preaching? Yes. Will some preaching get into your teaching? I hope so. Preaching is the “for you” declaration of what God does in Jesus. I believe that this is what Dr. Meyer means when he says “save it for Bible Study”. Of course, he wants people in the pews to get a deeper understanding of God’s Word contained in the Bible. He does not feel that the pulpit is the venue for this. As for the other churches who do these long “sermons” with lots of “textual exposition”, to me, it seems that they are using the time for what Lutherans would call “Bible Study”. Having said that, their is one distiction: there is no discussion at the time of the teaching. The pastor “teaches”, the people listen or take notes, and then, maybe, they discuss what they have learned at a small group or what have you and apply it to their lives. Still, there is in that long 30-60 minute “sermon” some declarative language (i.e., “God has rescued you from sin in Jesus Christ”), but not nearly enough. It is mostly, at least to me, about gaining Biblical knowledge, which, for the most part, is done by Lutherans at a separate time during “Bible Study”.

    There are obviously two different camps here, and two different theologies coming from both camps. Many of these other churches emphasize “knowledge” so that the human will can decide for Christ and live lives like Jesus did, following Him. Lutherans emphasize knowledge, too, but a knowledge that faith (as God’s gift, Eph. 2) clings to, that brings salvation. We study God’s Word, and do textual exposition, in order to deepen that faith that clings to Christ…the faith that is declared to us in a…should I call it…”Lutheran” sermon?

    One more thing…look at Chapel Sermons at Concordia Seminary. Some are “long” (17 minutes or longer!). Some are “medium” (10-15 minutes). And some are very short (some as little as 4 minutes). The question we would ask about this, then, is: what is the purpose of the sermon during chapel? Is it to hear a 30-60 minute exposition of the text? Isn’t everyone on campus, to a greater or lesser extent, doing that already, in even greater amounts of time? Or is the purpose of the sermon, no matter how long or short, to declare to faculty, staff and students the Good News of Jesus Christ?

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