Preaching with Power – Dr. John Nixon

Preaching With PowerOur next preacher in the book Preaching with Power is John Nixon. He is an associate ministerial secretary of the North American Division Ministerial Department. He is currently transitioning from being the senior pastor of the Oakwood College Church in Huntsville, AL to being the senior pastor of the Collegedale Church at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN.

Understanding of Preaching

Pastor Nixon believes that preaching is taking that which is behind the text and explaining it to the people. Thus the purpose is to find the meaning of the text and interpret it for today. This is an explicitly theological approach to the preaching event.

Method of Sermon Preparation

Pastor Nixon provides a pretty explicit sermon preparation model. To begin Elder Nixon suggests that the preachers spend 30-40 hours in 5 days on the sermon alone. One wonders how one can keep up such a large number of hours if one is a pastor. Pastor Jones actually asked him twice and Pastor Nixon confirmed. One thing that is pretty certain is that if you spend so much time on a sermon and you follow a plan you will probably come out with a very good sermon.

The first step in preparation is to read the passage several times in different translations. This step is completed before any formal exegesis. This will serve as an orientation for the preacher to the passage. I have seen this suggested by other homilititians like Brad Braxton in Preaching Paul.Preaching Paul

Next the preacher will perform formal exegesis to get at the orginal meaning of the text. Pastor Nixon emphasizes that there are two horizons of the text the meaning in the past and the meaning today. This serves to emphasize what was spoken earlier about “the meaning” of the text rather than the text itself being what the preacher is emphasizing.

Next, the preacher must determine the “Christocentric Theology of the Text.” This is the component “behind the text” that teaches the gospel. Where is the Gospel in the text? where is the good news in the text? These are the components of the text that we attempt to pull out at this point in the process.

Finally, the form of the sermon (narrative, deductive, inductive, etc) falls naturally out of the sermon preparation precess itself. In other words the process guides the form of the sermon rather than arbitrarily choosing a sermon form or always choosing the semonic approach.

In addition to the above process, Pastor Nixon seeks to have the preacher gain a “homiletical bias” where the preacher looks at the world through the lens of homiletical possibilities which will allow the preacher to gain all the illustrations one needs without resorting to illustration books.

Understanding of Adventist Preaching

Pastor Nixon emphasies the importance of Adventist preaching being “Christ-centered rather than apologetic.” I interpret him to mean that we should not simply seek to defend the truth of the doctrines we present (apologetic), but that we should constructively seek to preach the Gospel through our Doctrines. In another place he suggests that the Adventist preacher “explain the Gospel in the form of distinctive Adventist Understandings.” I find such an approach to be very interesting.

Understanding of Black Preaching

Dr. Nixon emphasizes that the Black church tradition has an element of form, but it is more theology than form. This way one can actually preach a “Black” sermon in many different styles including a “low-key” approach.

Dr. Nixon defines the theological approach of Black preaching as an emphasis on God’s care and concern for the downtrodden and opppressed. He includes in this approach to Black preaching the judging of Kings and Rulers who do not live up to the truth. Dr. Nixon quickly adds that the Black preacher must be “Biblical and not just political.” It would be interesting to have him further define and describe what he means in other places.

I especially like Nixon’s approach to Adventist preaching which resonates with what I have tried to say. I have attempted to define Adventist preaching as using Adventism as glasses through which we see and understand the Gospel. Dr. Nixon and I both seem to be saying the same thing here. Such an approach opens up the doctrines of Adventism to be used at all times and in all sermons without all sermons becoming didactic or apologetic. I think that there is a time for apologetic and didactic moments, but there are other moments when the preacher must preach in other modes and I think that our Adventism must influence even those preaching moments.The Heart of Black Preaching

I also like the defining of Black preaching as primarily theological. We have seen such an approach in some of the other preachers in this series as well as other homiliticians such as Cleophas LaRue who defines Black preaching as largely about an approach to the Bible where God is actively invovled in history. The belief that God is standing with the opporessed seems to be a common theme that some homiliticians see as at the foundation of Black Preaching.

Preaching with Power – Dr. James Doggette

Preaching With Power
James Doggette is a professor at Oakwood College as well as the Pastor of the Madison Mission Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Doggette is a dynamic speaker who relatively recently has held an Amazing Facts seminar in Huntsville Alabama.

Understanding of Preaching

Dr. Doggette like Barry Black sees importance in Phillip Brooks definition of preaching as “truth poured out through personality.” Dr. Doggette nuances this insight by stating that “Preaching is divine truth or biblical truth communicated through personality.” Dr. Doggette also echos Paul Scott Wilson by emphasizing that preaching is an event and not “merely verbal communication.”

Method of Sermon Preparation

Pastor Doggette states that he first seeks to know the story, then he condenses the sermon from that story into one sentence. He and Dr. Jones notes that this is what Haddon Robinson refers to as the Big idea. Doggette notes that Haddon Robinson’s work has influenced his preaching more than any other book.Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages

Pastor Doggette’s main exegetical approach is to look at the Biblical story and seek to find the story either in the passage or behind the passage. He states that he is not really concerned primarily about word studies, but about getting at the story. He notes that every passage has as story.

The Practice of PreachingAlso Doggette, contrary to much opinion, does not either use a manuscript in the pulpit or write out one. He refers to the performed sermon as a “jazz performance in that feeling plays a big role in the outcome of the sermon.”

Understanding of Adventist Preaching

Pastor Doggette reminds all Black Adventist preachers to be sure to preach the Seventh-day Adventist doctrinal and prophetic themes in addition to themes of liberation and the mangement of power. Doggette does not want Adventist preachers to forget that they are Adventist. He believes that a “greener grass” idea is creeping into the Black Adventist ministry as more and more Black Adventist pastors obtain graduate degrees and doctorates from other schools. Doggette believes that rubbing shoulders with great preachers from other denominations has caused the Black Adventist preacher in many cases to “discount the distinctive truths and values we have as Adventists.”

Understanding of Black Preaching

Dr. Doggette sees black preaching as primarily prophetic in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. He sees, therefore, a primary purpose of the Black preacher is to “stir things up.” He suggests that Black Adventist preachers who seek to be true to Black preaching and Seventh-day Adventist preaching should study the lives of the prophets and note that they were often opposed but it was God who held them up when others did not.

Dr. Doggette’s brings a theological focus to both Black preaching and Adventist preaching. He sees importance in the Black Adventist preacher being true to both traditions. I like Doggette’s statement that Black preaching is prophetic. Too often we think of Black preaching as just a style of preaching. Others may think of it as a structure to our sermons like “narrative preaching.” Doggette sees it as primarily an approach to preaching that “stirs things up” as it prophetically challenges those with power to use it correctly.

Dr. Doggette also points out that there is a great temptation to set aside distinctive Adventist teachings to run after the “greener grass.” I believe that the Adventist distinctive teachings, but also the Adventist distinctive “mindset” or “theological approach” should undergird all that we do. As I have stated elsewhere “If it ain’t the gospel it shouldn’t be preached, if it ain’t Adventist, why has God chosen you to preach it?”

Preaching with Power – E. E. Cleveland

The next interview is with E. E. Cleveland. He is probably the greatest Adventist Evangelist of our time. When one thinks of Adventist Evangelists E. E. Cleveland’s name will almost certainly come up

Understanding of Preaching

Elder Cleveland did not explicitly speak about his?theology of preaching, but he did speak of a few important points. First Preaching With Powerhe notes that the preacher must have a holy boldness. Next, the preacher must be totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. Next, all of our preaching must be Christ-centered.? Cleveland reminds us that we should not allow T. D. Jakes or Rod Parsely to have a corner on preaching Jesus.
Another interesting point that Cleveland brings out is that the preacher cannot always recognize the difference between a good and a bad sermon.? Just preach your sermon and leave the results to God.? Cleveland tells the story of a time he thouhgt the sermon was not really that good, but someone came, this taught him to just preach.

Method of Sermon Preparation

Once again Elder Cleveland does not really give a method, but he does say that he always prepares by daily reading three texts. First is 2 Samuel 7:8. The second is Nehimiah 13:14. The third is Exodus 23:25.? It is interesting that all three are Old Testament texts which shows how the Adventist preacher and the Black preacher uses the Old Testament just as much as the New.

Understanding of Adventist Preaching

Elder Clevland emphasizes that Jesus must be at the center of our presentations as Adventist ministers. He states that Black Adventist preachers have remembered this. He gives the example of the Sanctuary. He states that Black Advnetists have always kept Jesus first in this doctrine and have not gotten caught up in the perephnalia of the Sanctuary. Elder Cleveland quotes Henry Wright who spoke about the Sanctuary and stated in effect, “I don’t care if the throne is moveable or not, all I care is that there is a thrown and we have an advocate.”

Understanding of Black Preaching

Elder Cleveland emphasizes that it is important to know Black history if you are to be a black preacher. Cleveland believes that Black preaching is not about emotion, but about contextually relating the Gospel to the historic struggles of black people. He believes that?this kind of Black preaching is?totally compatible with Adventist preaching.
Elder Cleveland’s?discussion of the?black struggle for freedom is significant in that he?identifies the freedom movement?as God’s movement. The move for black liberation is not peripheral to God’s hand in history, but it is God’s hand in history. Thus Black history becomes a discussion of God’s acts in history and not merely a discussion of abstract facts.? Black history is transformed into looking for God’s hand in history.? Thus when one speaks of a narrative approach to preaching we can tell the Biblical story as narrative,Preaching With Power but we also can tell the narrative of God’s present actions.?
Another interesting point about this kind of preaching is that it reminds us that God cares not merely about individuals, but also about groups.? God cares about Black people as a people.? God cares about individuals AND groups.??Revelation teaches us that Jesus hand is over history.? The Seven Churches teach us that God is taking care of the Church throughout history.? Trimming the lamps so that it can truly be the people of God.?? God is actively invovled in helping us individually, but also as a people.? God is not coming back for an individual or even for us as individuals, but God is coming back for a people a remnant.? It is true that we become members of a group individually, but it is also true that Jesus is coming back for the Bride which is the church corporate and universal.
I think Black Preaching can help us bring back this corporate identity to evangelical Christianity whihc has totally ignored the importance of the corporate in spirituality.? Perhaps this is why some have such a hard time explaining why one should go to church and not just stay home and pray by oneself with their own connection to Jesus.