Treating Sermons Like a Wine Tasting

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

Walter Kaiser writes:1 

According to the “New Homiletic” [a term coined by David Allen], every sermon or lesson from the Bible must chiefly be “interesting.” But what biblical support could we give for this assertion? This is not to make a case for boring or ineffective lessons and sermons, of course. But we must ask who determines or supplies the criteria whereby we can say that a sermon has “interest.”

The apostle Peter concluded that some of Paul’s writings were hard to understand (2 Pet 3:16); would such difficult matters pass the “interest” test? Why didn’t Peter just create his own meanings and not worry about what propositional teachings Paul might have had in mind? If teaching and preaching also have as one of their main goals to effect change in the lives of the listeners, would all of those apostolic or Old Testament prophetic calls for change be welcomed at first blush as being “interesting” by all listeners?

In fact, the criteria of “interest” may be linked to more modern values, such as the brevity of the message or the number of memorable illustrations peppered throughout its short duration. This matter of “interest” also may indicate that our contemporaries are becoming more like connoisseurs of listening to messages rather than being those who are moved in their hearts to act and become doers of the word (James 1:22).

Rather than making “interest” the key test for a good sermon, we would suggest as an alternative the double tests of: (1) does the lesson or sermon accurately reflect what I being taught by the author of the text? and (2) has that text been applied to our modern and contemporary contexts of living and acting so that I am called to change for the glory of God?

 And we thought idolatry was limited to things like money, sex, and power.


1 Walter Kaiser, The Majesty of God in the Old Testament: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 19-20.

3 Comments on “Treating Sermons Like a Wine Tasting”

  1. A great sermon can have a huge impact on the church congregation. I love sermons that can take the word of the Lord and apply it to modern day life.

  2. Applying sermons to modern day life is crucial. It's important to remember to analyze history and know the setting and how people lived there lives out in different parts of the scripture.

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