We Need a Serious Reformation in Preaching in the Missouri Synod – Pres. Harrison

Excellent comments regarding preaching (4:46 through 9:30):

If we cease to be a movement of repentance, then we have no right to exist on this earth. … I fear that we pastors of the Missouri Synod may be preaching our church to death. There was an instance just this last week: a couple of young students giving their trial sermons. I talked to a brother who had seen them preach and, he said, “Everything was perfectly correct according to the book, but the law they preached was just law as lament. ‘Ohhh. Your minivan ran out of gas this week on the way to take the kids to school. Isn’t life hard? Jesus is for you.'”

It’s one thing I’ve noticed, moving from Zion in Fort Wayne, here in the inner city, at least you could see real sin for what it was, unmasked. I loved working with drug addicts and having all kinda crazy people around, thieves, et cetera. At least it was out in the open. In the suburbs, it’s all covered over and quiet and it all gets toned down. Jesus because we feel bad about ourselves.

What happened to Walther’s Law and Gospel, for Pete’s sake? What happened to Luther thundering about Leviticus 19 — the mountain of the Lord, where Moses goes up the mountain, he receives the testimony, but the Lord says, “If you touch the mountain, you shall die”? Who preaches this way any more? It’s no wonder, it’s no wonder our preaching has in many places diminished to pious drivel about how much more we should do missions, instead of really causing hearts to repent, refreshing them, freeing them, releasing them with the Gospel so they’re eager to go out of church and love and serve their neighbor in word and deed.

We need a serious reformation in preaching in the Missouri Synod. And we, of all people, I tell you. I go around the world and I hear preaching with our partner churches. It’s, it’s worse in many cases. I’ve heard sermons that could be preached by Muslims. And this is with us, the people of Walther’s Law and Gospel. With us!

Many churches, many Protestant churches especially, but others, many churches, people exist for decades having really never heard the Gospel in a sermon. And I fear that we have many Missouri Synod churches where they hear precious little of the Gospel at all.

What is the Gospel? It is Christ for you: Christ’s life for you, Christ’s birth for you, Christ’s chastity for you, Christ’s keeping of the law for you, Christ’s sacrifice for you, Christ’s suffering for you, Christ’s faith for you, Christ’s faithfulness for you, all for you.

We need a revolution. We need … I’ll tell you, at this anniversary of Walther, Walther’s greatest gift to the Church catholic and the Missouri Synod is his Law and Gospel lectures. It is time for us all to repent.

I am quite happy to have different types of preaching, narrative preaching. You can even walk around during Lent, you can walk around in sandals and your bathrobe, if you want, acting like a prophet, I won’t come but I won’t criticize you that much. Please, we have got to learn to preach, to wrestle with the text, to at least mine something out of the text, and deliver the goods. Preaching is a sacramental act. It is delivering the goods. It is damning and freeing, as we say it. The living and mighty, active Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the marrow. How many times people walk out of church having not been moved to anything?

God help us. Amen. We must be a movement of repentance.

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