We are pleased to release a “Seedbed Short” today entitled, Preaching in the Wesleyan Tradition, authored by Dr. Lenny Luchetti. What follows is a brief Q & A with Lenny to give you a sense of who he is and what he’s about. The little book may be downloaded here.
Q: Dr. Luchetti, how did you become so interested in and committed to the disciplines and practice of Christian preaching?
A: God used Christian preaching to call me “out of darkness and into his marvelous light.” I was not raised in a Christian home and my annual pilgrimages to church happened on Easter and Christmas Eve, sometimes. In my late teens, my life had come as close to “rock-bottom” as I could tolerate. I began my movement toward the Christ who was already moving toward me. That’s when I was exposed to Christian proclamation. Preaching articulated my struggles and pain, as well as my hopes and dreams, better than I could have ever expressed them. Preaching made Christ flesh so that I could see and respond to him in the particular contours of my life. Preaching allowed me to view God, myself, and the world from the standpoint of optimistic grace. Preaching helped me to imagine and embody a whole new world in which Jesus Christ lives and reigns now and forevermore. It wasn’t too long after my life was impacted by theologically substantive and contextually relevant preaching, that I sensed a call to the preaching life.
Q: You’ve written a book on preaching. Tell us about that book?
A: When I began exploring texts to resource seminary students in my preaching courses, I couldn’t locate the kind of book I was hoping to find. I was searching for a book that would address the broad range of topics within the field of homiletics such as preaching and the preacher, people and place, preparation and presentation, and planning and progress. While there have been a few books like this written over the last century, I could not find a book like it that was written in the past ten years. So, I wrote Preaching Essentials: A Practical Guide in a manner that would take the best of the preaching tradition progressively into the future. The book consists of 42 short chapters with questions for reflection and/or practical exercises. I wrote the book for new and seasoned preachers who are seeking to discover or recover their God-designed preaching “voice,” and for those whose vocation is to help these preachers.
Q: You’ve also developed a website committed to biblical preaching in the Wesleyan Tradition? Tell us about that and how we might connect to it.
A: Wesleyansermons.com launched in January 2011 to encourage, equip, and empower preachers in the Wesleyan movement to proclaim Christ through sermons that are faithful to both the biblical text and the contemporary context. The site features audio sermons from a diversity of preachers within the Wesleyan movement in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and ministry context. Along with each audio sermon there is a conversation between me and the featured preacher in which we explore together the contours of the sermon. Additionally, the site features articles designed to cultivate healthy homiletic convictions and practices.
Q: What are some other sites and resources online and off you consider helpful in the work of preaching?
A: Everything sacred and secular we read, every conversation we have with God and people, every piece of music we hear and movie we view, and every experience we endure or enjoy shapes those of us who preach. I read the New Testament theology of N.T. Wright and the homiletic insights of a Tom Long and Fred Craddock, but my preaching imagination is also shaped by the reading of classic and contemporary fiction from authors like Tolkien and Tolstoy, as well as Crichton and Christie. The vocation of preaching is a call to view everything we experience through the lens of a holy, gracious, and liberating God and through the lens of a hope-hungry human race. Life itself, then, is the ultimate resource from which we preachers become prophets who speak for God to people and priests who represent the human race to a holy God.
Q: Who’s your favorite preacher, dead or alive, and why?
A: That’s easy- Ellsworth Kalas, Stacy Minger, Mike Pasquarello, and J.D Walt. I force myself to listen to an eclectic mix of good preachers. I listen to mainliners like Fred Craddock, Eugene Lowry, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Will Willimon. I listen to the sermons of some popular preachers like Francis Chan, Bill Hybels, and Andy Stanley. I learn a lot from black preachers like Tony Evans and Cleophus Larue. Learning from an eclectic group of preachers guards me against the temptation to clone any one of them. From the lists above I would have to say that Taylor and Stanley, who are very different from each other, are two of my favorites. Taylor is virtually unmatched in her use of poetically imagistic language to weave text and context together in ways that blur the line between the two. Stanley is clear and focused, didactic and prophetic, biblically insightful and rhetorically proficient. But I get most excited when I come across an excellent preacher in a small church that serves an obscure town.