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Pablo Jiménez on Reenergizing Preaching

One way to keep sermons fresh is to ditch the deductive form, in which preachers begin with their main point and then work to prove it.

Preachers also need vision, according to Pablo Jiménez, senior pastor of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Espinosa, Dorado, Puerto Rico. He and Justo González authored Púlpito: An Introduction to Hispanic PreachingJiménez has preached and taught in several countries in Central and North America.

How many sermons a week do you prepare and preach? How does this number compare to other Spanish-speaking preachers?

In a regular week I preach three full sermons—two at Sunday morning worship services and one in a small group. In a busy week, I may also preach in another small group or in funerals. (I have had up to three funerals in a single week). People also expect their pastor to say “a little something” during prayer meetings. 

This is not unusual for Latino/a ministers, given that our congregations tend to meet more regularly during the week than the average Anglo congregation does. I imagine that the same dynamic occurs in other racial-ethnic congregations.

What’s one thing that has helped you reenergize your preaching?

Vision! A clear vision helps you energize your ministry as a whole. Every year a theme helps us focus on a given aspect of our ministerial vision. For example, in 2014 we focused on the Apostles’ Creed, and I preached a series of 16 sermons about different aspects of the creed. I studied hard and learned a lot about doctrinal preaching. The series enthused the congregation, motivating people to follow the sermons and listen to sermon recordings archived online.

Why might someone trained to preach three-point deductive sermons consider choosing another sermon style?

Simply because the traditional deductive sermon is not effective anymore. In the Caribbean, this sermon form is a colonial vestige that we must overcome in order to forge a contextual homiletic style. The traditional deductive sermon form came to the Americas from Great Britain. The form was translated to Latin America and quickly became the only acceptable sermon form in Protestant circles.

Why might preachers from European or Anglo roots also want to move away from deductive sermons?

This form embodies all the values from yesteryear. It is monological, rationalistic, authoritarian and individualistic. But we now live in a post-colonial, postmodern world, so, to communicate the gospel effectively, we need sermons that open, not close, conversation opportunities. We need sermons that foster creativity, dialogue and unity. They must be more inductive and narrative—storytelling sermons that consider all ethnic groups in our community and speak to both mind and heart. And we need sermons delivered by preachers who know they are companions in dialogue, not resident theologians.

Pablo Jiménez on why sermons need to reflect cultural context (8:53).

If You Just Close Your Eyes from Pablo Jimenez on Vimeo. 

Hear Pablo Jiménez preach and register for his workshop on overcoming homiletic fatigue at the 2015 Calvin Symposium on Worship. Explore his blogs in English and mostly Spanish.