On Creativity & Preaching

Should sermons be creative? Is it wrong to crave & expect creative sermons? It all depends on how we define “creative”.

This I know to be true: nowhere is the Gospel boring. Proclaiming Jesus crucified and alive is impossible to do without joy, intrigue, mystery, and amazement. But what of style? Should we expect creative sermons?

The Scriptures warn against going all in on human style, and for good reason. Nobody wants their spouse to marry them because of their ability to string together the right words at the right place and the right time. The same is true as a pastor. Pastors shouldn’t be peddlers. No, God does the convincing. Paul had this outlook.

Gospel preaching should…“not [be] with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

But Paul was also stylistically and culturally brilliant. Style matters because culture matters. It’s never about entertainment value but simply about being understood from one culture to another. Consider, Paul’s speech in Athens never names Jesus explicitly yet arrested the attention of many Athenians that resulted in private opportunities to share the gospel. (see Acts 17)

For many of us, creativity just means entertainment value. Think about how we rank sermons, “he was funny”, “that was boring”, or “I stopped listening.” But true creative sermons are Spiritual. Capital ‘S’ because the Spirit of God is present. Creative sermons may adopt a cultural style, but beneath that style is the power of a creative God. This is what it means to creatively proclaim the gospel in power.

True creative sermons move us to bend our will in obedience as a response to the grace and power of God.

With God, creativity is about power. Not tyrannical power, but source power. Genesis opens on this simple truth: “In the beginning, God created…” What distinguishes God’s creativity from ours is simple — our creativity requires matter to exist, but God? He’s creative from scratch, and I mean — from absolute scratch. Scripture speaks of the universe existing “by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1.3)

Proclaiming the good news of the risen Jesus from the Scripture is taking part in God’s re-creation power & agenda.

This theology must inform our understanding of preaching. Proclaiming the good news of the risen Jesus from the Scripture is taking part in God’s re-creation power & agenda. We see this laid out in Scripture beautifully. So when we ask, “should sermons be creative?” Well, how could they not be? But it’s not a question of style, it’s a question of theology. Do we believe God to be creative? To be committed to recreation? The entire aim of preaching then is a creative act, to help people hear the hope of Jesus and respond to it, which requires God’s power in and of itself. True gospel preaching is creative in the deepest sense of the word

Consider the scene of creation from Genesis 1. Before God speaks, we are given this description: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “let there be light” and there was light.” (Genesis 1.2–3)

Fast forward to the book of Acts. Jesus is risen, and ascended to Heaven, the new creation program is under way! In a direct rehearsal of Genesis, the Spirit now hovers, not over physical creation, but over the people of God — the new creation. “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2.2) Only after the Spirit descends does Peter speak up.

True gospel preaching is creative in the deepest sense of the word: that when we faithfully proclaim Jesus, by the power and grace of God, He creates life where there once was death. He creates a family, where there once was orphans.

So, should we expect creative sermons? Yes. Creative how? Creative in that we encounter the power of God that moves us to deeper repentance and trust. That doesn’t require human ingenuity, only human dependance on the Creator.

Published by Jared Stacy

Jared is an American Pastor, writer, and PhD Candidate in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

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