Pentecostal Preaching

I first became a Christian at age 12, through the Christian group that met in my High School.  It was 1986.  That group was really my first church.  I then got involved at my local Anglican Church –St Paul’s Castle Hill, in Sydney.

Then an interesting turn of events occurred that saw me end up in a Pentecostal Bible College in 1992, my first year out of school.  After I moved to Melbourne in 1997 I have only ever attended Pentecostal churches, and that is certainly where my future lies.

That diverse background has made a profound impression on me.  Pentecostals and Sydney Anglicans believe 98% the same stuff but the differences in personality and practice are massive.  One of the differences is the style of preaching.

Anglican preaching usually consists of a passage being followed through in a systematic way, with precision and discipline. With definitely no shouting.

Pentecostal preaching often takes a passage as a starting point and then wanders into various places that may or may not have much to do with what the passage read at the start is about.  It’s all usually done with great enthusiasm as well. You may think that this is a criticism but I making a point – God could have told us how he wanted his word preached.  He chose not to.  I further note that Jesus, God made flesh, did a lot of preaching and he mostly told stories from his imagination to make the points that he wanted to make.

One of the peculiar parts of Pentecostal preaching is the use of maxims or proverbs.  I don’t mean Proverbs as in the book in the bible; I mean short sayings that make a point.  In literature the proper name for this is an “aphorism” which is “a concise statement containing a subjective truth or observation cleverly and pithily written.”  Here are some examples from a recent sermon that I took notes of on my iphone –

  •  Stay in your season until your season is done with you, not until you are done with it.
  • Sometimes you don’t understand how important the beginning is until you arrive at the finish.
  • God  uses your setback for someone else’s comeback.
  • The measure of our emptiness determines the measure that we can be filled.
  • The  suddenly’s of God come with change.

All of those are from the one sermon.  Some of them don’t make much sense without the context they were used in.  But for me the use of maxims and proverbs is one of the most charming and helpful things about Pentecostal preaching.

One other that I heard recently that I liked was (speaking of adversity), “It’s not the stuff you go through, it’s how you go through the stuff.”

What about you?  Have you heard any goods ones recently?  What do you like / dislike about the way people preach?


6 Comments to “Pentecostal Preaching”

  1. Very good John. My preference is a sermon given by someone with a real teaching gift, who is able to pull a passage a part and show a whole new meaning and message without having to repeat points or go to long. I love short motivational teach quotes, but usually prefer to read them externally through authors like John maxwell. I think all denomations have their share of good and not so good preachers / sermons, but it is being open to hear what good is saying to you through some part of the sermon. Often it is one sentence or verse that impacts me in a sermon and then I really don’t hear much more of the sermon, but rather I reflect on the few impacting words or verse and let god speak into my life. Love your thoughts John.

    • Thanks Darren. I agree that the “real teching gift” makes for a much more enjoyable and helpful message. When you walk away with fresh meaning from a passge you have known well for a long time it’s brilliant.

  2. I love Joyce Meyer’s ‘We don’t need a wishbone, we need a backbone’.

  3. Hey John.

    I probably prefer a charasmatic / reformed approach.

    Having a very high view of scripture, the reformed perspective would suggest that God has given us some guidelines for preaching the word in the bible. Jesus’ brother seemed to think it important that we be prudent if we are called to teach (James 3:1).

    For example. We are to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), which is (essentially) to repent and believe in forgiveness through Jesus (Acts 5:29-31, Acts 2:38), without irreverent babble (2 Tim 16) or eloquent wisdom (1 Cor 1:17) but always focussed on Christ (1 Cor 1:23) (among other things).

    Also, while Jesus creatively used parables he still held a high view of scripture (Mat 5:17-19, Luke 24:44), and, He is ‘the Word’. He speaks with authority (Mark 1:27).

    Subjective truth, no matter how clever or succint is still subjective and subsequently I find it vague and somewhat meaningless when dealing with real issues in life. Objective truth on the other hand… well that’s how you get to know Jesus (John 14:6), regardless of personal tastes and feelings.

    Peace : )

    • Good comment James. Most of what you have said goes to the content of the message which in my experience is the same in both traditions – like I said they believe 98% the same stuff. I think it is then up to the preacher to apply what has been said to what you have described as “real issues in life”. A skillful preacher, regardless of which church tradition they come from, should be able to take what the bible says and give real solutions to real problems.

  4. Interesting Blog John. I remember some great maxims at St Pauls from memory too – Stephen HInk was good at them, and so was Andrew Cameron. Maybe we need to take the best from both !

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