“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But Dr. Abe Kuruvilla sure is trying.

That’s how it felt for some of us last week as we gathered together in Princeton Junction at Windsor Chapel for our Preaching Refresher. 

64 of our pastors and preachers-in-training signed up to be a part of this gathering. Not everyone made it due to a brief snowstorm, but it was worth the effort for those who made the trek. We had a good representation of preachers who’ve preached for decades, as well as a handful of preachers in their twenty’s just getting started.   

Dr. Kuruvilla challenged us about how we prepare messages. As an expert in his field, he knows that many of us were taught with what is widely known as “Big Idea” preaching, made popular by Haddon Robinson. Others have been heavily influenced by what is called “Christ-Centered” preaching, most notably by Bryan Chappel. 

What he encouraged us to do was to let the inspired author’s intent determine the theme of every message. For example, he said we should not just ask, “What is the author saying in this text?” and then move to determine application based on what we want to say about the passage. Instead, we should wrestle with the text until we can answer the question, “What is the author doing with what he is saying?”  The answer to that question should be the application for the sermon. The answer to that question is what bridges hermeneutics (Bible study) with homiletics (preaching).

Using humor, he advocated avoiding the preacher’s temptation to provide too many fascinating but unnecessary details and miss the point of the pericope (section) of the Bible we are preaching.

To illustrate, he used a situation where one person sat down beside another and accidentally sat their chair on the foot of the other. The one who has had the chair placed on his foot says, “Your chair is on my foot.” But the point of what’s being said is not just to state the chair’s location, but to say, “Move the chair off my foot!”   

Preachers may be tempted to give glorious detail about the wonders of the foot (after all, it is amazing), but the message here is clear – move the chair off my foot!

Praying for you and your churches,

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Eddie Cole

Executive Vice President of National Ministries at EFCA
Eddie is currently planting a church in Virginia with his wife Jessica. He was previously the Executive Vice President of National Ministries for the EFCA and before that the EFCA East District Superintendent. Regardless of role, with a desire to share the Gospel in word and deed, Eddie’s calling is to come alongside pastors and leaders helping them live well, lead well and multiply their ministries with vision and passion.

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