Las prácticas de la predicación cristiana

Rudimentos para la proclamación eficaz


3. Preach Contextually

Chapter 3 - Introduction

Chapter 3 - Collaborator Discussion

Learning Activities

Group Discussion Questions (could be offered as an individual activity as well)

  1. If you went around soliciting feedback from those who listen to your sermons, what do you think they would tell you about your strengths and weaknesses as a preacher?
  2. Look back at the seven cultural values discussed earlier in the chapter: individualism –collectivism, lower power distance – high power distance, low uncertainty avoidance – high uncertainty avoidance, cooperative – competitive, short term time – long term time, low context – high context, and being – doing. Locate yourself. How do you think these values shape you as a person? How do they shape you as a pastor? How do they shape your preaching?
  3. Listen to the Jacqueline E. Lapsley sermon clip below. Jacqueline E. Lapsley preached this sermon to seminarians (most of whom were residential students) at the start of a new academic year, and about two-to-three weeks into the fall semester. How did she contextualize this sermon to them? Offer ideas and concrete examples. How did she use the contextualizing she did in the introduction to the sermon as a way to orient listeners to the story of Gideon?
  1. Name some preachers that you think do a good job contextualizing. What do you think makes them good at it?
  2. Watch the Walter Brueggemann sermon clip below. Walter Brueggemann preached this sermon during Advent in a university chapel setting. What strategies did he employ in his introduction in order to contextualize his sermon to that specific setting at that specific time?
  1. Look back at Leonora Tubbs Tisdale’s seven sources for congregational context: stories and interviews, archival material, demographics, architecture and visual arts, rituals, events and activities, and people. If you made a decision to pursue one of more of these sources of context, which ones would you choose, and why? What do you think you would find out about your local congregation?
  2. Watch the D.A. Horton sermon clip below. In this sermon excerpt, D. A. Horton tells a story about explaining the doctrine of sin to a gang member. What did he do to make sin more intelligible to the person he met while shoveling snow? What did he do to make the story accessible to those listening to his sermon?
  1. Would you say your tendency as a preacher is to over-contextualize or under-contextualize? Explain your answer.
  2. How does your nationality enhance your interpretation of Scripture? How might it hinder it? What about your race or ethnicity? Gender? Socioeconomic status?
  3. Many Latinx theologians use the term lo cotidiano (“daily lived experience”) to describe the daily lived experiences of Latina/os. What do you think is the daily lived experience for most of the people you serve in your ministry context?
  4. Listen to the Jannette Ok sermon clip below. Jannette Ok preached this sermon in the local church where she pastors. She preached from Matthew 11:28-30 during the Advent season. How did she contextualize to listeners in her local congregation during Advent? Offer ideas and concrete examples. How did she use contextualizing in the introduction as a way to orient listeners to Jesus’ charge: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)?
  1. In Delivering the Sermon, Teresa L. Fry Brown offers us a helpful exercise for understanding our congregation.1 Answer the following questions pertaining to your context
  2. - What is the ethnic, cultural, gender, age, racial, health, theological, social, educational composition of your congregation?

    - What is the “typical” worship style/form/design used?

    - What comprises good preaching in your setting?

    - How do listeners respond to preaching?

    - How do listeners participate in worship?

    - Who is listening? What is your estimation of the faith stance of the congregation (believers, nonbelievers, pretenders, churched, unchurched, dechurched, those in transition)?

    - Is your preaching transportable or adaptable?

    - Are there any topics that would be off-limits in this setting?

    1. Brown, Delivering the Sermon, (Minneapolis.: Fortress Press, 2008), 23–24.

Individual Reflection Activity (for preaching journal outside of class or in-class writing activity)

  1. Where do I locate myself in my attentiveness to contextualization as a preacher? What do these insights reveal to me?

  2. If I were to solicit feedback, what would others tell me (or what have they already told me) about my attentiveness to contextualization?

  3. What would it look like for me to take greater risks (i.e., stretch myself) in the process of contextualization in order to grow?

  4. Name two to three attainable goals that will help you grow in your capacity to preach contextually. In addition to writing down your goals, explain why you chose these goals.