D. Martin Lloyd-Jones is famous for saying that preaching is “logic on fire.” Unfortunately, many preachers who lack in the logic category try to make up for it with more fire.
Not having the logical hops to dunk the sermon, this preacher is a fiery dribbler who never crosses the three-point line. He looks at his sweat stains – not the scoreboard – to gauge his performance.
What does it look like when a preacher is all fire, but no logic?
I can think of four ways preachers try to make up for sermons that lack the arguments to convince their hearers of their point.
1. Repeating adverbs or adjectives. “This is really, really important!” and “What a beautiful, beautiful doctrine!” does not prove that what you are saying is important or beautiful. To do that you have to tell us why it’s beautiful and important. Which means you have to form a convincing argument.
2. The cross-reference dump truck. When you come to a verse you can’t explain, some pastors dump in a bunch of other verses that contain the same key word. The problem is that you haven’t proved what the text means, only that the Bible says a lot about the topic.
3. Extreme displays of emotion. Do you resort to yelling or crying to get a response from your congregation? That means – whether you have realized this or not – deep down you know your words aren’t working.
4. The “because the Bible says so” trump card. The skeptic will not be convinced that something is true “because the Bible says so.” And, as a youth pastor, I can tell you that many young people are not convinced by this either. You can’t get away with asserting basic Christian beliefs in our post-Christian culture.
Of course, I believe that what the Bible says is true because it says so. But you must explain why it says so, and why what the culture says about that same idea is wrong.
If preaching is “logic on fire,” then logic is the wood for the fire of preaching.
Without well-thought, biblical proofs for your message, your congregation will grow cold to your preaching – no matter how hot you feel.