Craft of Preaching


Field notes from preachers you trust -- Nathan Aaseng, Patricia Tull and others.

A Preacher’s Case for Safe Space

“Definition of safe space: a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening

Cue the Music

When I was a young boy, I accidentally memorized the books of the New Testament. I say “accidentally” because I had not intended to, and I did

Preaching Immanuel among Cynics

I recently came across a survey asking respondents’ attitudes toward Christmas. The vast majority of those surveyed disagreed with the sentiment that

A Sincere Gesture

I recall many years ago a national politician who was known for his awkward and contrived way of relating to audiences. A comedian spoofed this politician

Spiritual but not Religious

I heard those words again last week: “We’re spiritual but not religious.” I hear them often, and I’m sure you have, too. This has

Delivered with Love, From Me to You

On Confirmation Sunday, I was reminded once again of an important truth about preaching. Preaching is most effective when we direct our words not to people

Weightier Matters: Faith, Justice, and Mercy

As I prepare this month’s column, the scripture that refuses to let me rest is:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe

Preaching in an Exilic Age

I am trying to discern whether we have entered an era of Christian exile in America. It certainly feels like it, and not for the reasons that are usually

Preaching in Interesting Times

There is supposedly an old Chinese curse that goes: “May you live in interesting times.”

We certainly live in interesting times, and it often

Identity Crisis

One of the lessons we have learned from recent politics is the power of group identity. To the astonishment of political pundits, it appears that once people

Same Old Jesus

We often give Jesus’ disciples grief for being clueless sidekicks who never seem to get what Jesus is saying. But there was one instance in which

Truthtelling in Watershed Moments

The words “crisis,” “unprecedented,” and “chaos” seem to be appearing with alarming frequency in this year’s news

I Don’t Do Magic

After a recent baptism at which I presided, a young girl asked me, very shyly, “How did you make the water holy?”

I love such curiosity in

Two Futures

While on vacation in the Canadian Maritime provinces and New England this past month, I saw two visions of the future church.

One of these was bleak.

Reading Scripture with Creation

When pastors and Bible study participants seek a stronger ecological hermeneutic, I often challenge them simply to read Scripture with an eye to its many