Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What is experimental preaching?

Experimental preaching is the overflow of the preacher's experience of the Word of God to meet the experience of those to whom he preaches. It is vitally important but especially difficult to define. I tend to rely upon John Owen's acute observations on this as the best definition available.

"Experience of the power of the truth which they preach in and upon their own souls. Without this they will themselves be lifeless and heartless in their own work, and their labour for the most part will be unprofitable towards others…But a man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us. And no man lives in a more woeful condition than those who really believe not themselves what they persuade others to believe continually. The want of this experience of the power of gospel truth on their own souls is that which gives us so many lifeless, sapless orations, quaint in words and dead as to power, instead of preaching the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit." Vol. 16, p. 76.

But it stands to reason that it is better experienced than defined. This sermon is probably the most experimental sermon I have heard.