In the article below, What Is the Difference Between a Good Sermon and a Bad One?, Pastor Todd Wilken quotes Dr. C.F.W. Walther:
The value of a sermon depends not only on this, that every statement in it be taken from the Word of God and be in agreement with the same, but also on this, whether Law and Gospel have been rightly divided. (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, pp. 31–32. http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-04.html)
Did you read that carefully, pastors? EVERY STATEMENT OF YOUR SERMON MUST MUST BE TAKEN FROM THE WORD OF GOD — not your own mind. Conform your thinking and speaking to the way God would have you think and speak.
And forget about the pastor actually studying the Scriptures in the original languages to see how the Gospel (or any) lesson for that Sunday should be preached. No, he’ll just get up and tell us what *he* thinks it means. No context; nothing. Either he’s too lazy to study the original languages or just busies himself with “doing ministry” or with his personal life that the languages fall by the wayside.
Mostly, though, he hates his people. He has given up on his promise, spoken so solemnly during his installation, to preach the Gospel in all its truth and purity and to administer the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution. He refuses to confront sins with the Law, especially his own sins, let alone his members’ sins. He refuses to examine the Ten Commandments to see through the mirror of God’s Law how utterly terribly he hates his own parishioners. He would rather neglect telling them that they are damnable sinners, completely deserving of God’s wrath and punishment, including the fire of hell and eternal separation from God. He refuses to call them to repentance and to turn from their sins and believe the Gospel, that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, paid for their sins on the bloody crucifixion cross.
Pastor David Petersen, Redeemer Lutheran, Ft. Wayne, Ind. was on Issues, Etc. two days ago, and once again discussed Preaching with Pastor Todd Wilken:
I pray this for all pastors:
Almighty and gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have commanded us to pray that You would send forth laborers into Your harvest. Of Your infinite mercy give us true teachers and ministers of Your Word who truly fulfill Your command and preach nothing contrary to Your holy Word. Grant that we, being warned, instructed, nurtured, comforted, and strengthened by Your holy Word, may do those things which are well-pleasing to You and profitable for our salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Lutheran Service Book, p. 306)
A Listener’s Guide to the Pulpit
Pastor Todd Wilken
How hard could it be? You go to church. The preacher preaches. You sit and listen. Easy, right?
But how do you tell the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon? What makes good preaching good, and bad preaching bad?
For several years Issues, Etc. has been doing on–air sermon reviews. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Joel Osteen, D. James Kennedy, T.D. Jakes, Robert Schuller, Joyce Meyer, as well as many less well–known preachers. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and others. Most of these preachers were speaking to packed auditoriums and to worldwide television audiences. Most of the preachers were dynamic, engaging, interesting, and even entertaining. Most of their sermons were terrible.
Now, who am I to make such a judgment? Nobody. But I don’t make this judgment based on my own subjective tastes or my own personal standard. I make this judgment based on the objective difference between good preaching and bad preaching.
Is there an objective standard for good preaching? Yes. It is a standard every Christian should know and use every time they hear a sermon. Every Christian should know the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon.
Appalling! The people at Salem, Tomball, Texas, should be ashamed.
My good friend, Dr. Paul Schilf, has some additional worship resources here:
Pastor Larry Peters, in his blog post, “Music in the Church,” makes some fine points regarding the dumbing down of the music of the liturgy. Excerpts:
(W)e have abused our liturgical freedom both to the detriment of the unity of the Church and the catechetical well-being of the folks in the pew. This is one area in which we all share the need for some repentance and change. We have borrowed from those who have a completely different understanding of worship and a different theology[,] and the price we have paid is that our people do not see the difference between the pop gospel songs they hear on Christian radio and the hymns of the faith (both new and old).
For us it is not about changing the rules or enforcing the ones on the books — it is about convincing Pastors and those who plan and lead worship to be more faithful in their calling. It is about believing that what can be done is not the same as what should be done. It is about putting the effort in to choose music for the liturgy that reflects the lectionary and not personal taste. It is about getting serious with respect to what we confess to our people and to the world when we use music that conflicts with the faith or is trite, trivial, and banal in content and style.