The Preacher as Artist
What model of preaching should be adopted by ministers? Many have been suggested and I suspect there are positives and negatives to each, but let me suggest a model that would benefit all preachers and every sermon. The preacher as an artist is a model I believe every minister should adopt. An artist is someone who creates something that expresses truth to an audience or individuals in a unique way. This is what preachers should be doing each week.
Artist is a broad term, so let me be a little more specific. I am not suggesting preachers be like Justin Beiber or some other pop star. What a minister wears and how his hair looks should not matter. True artists are not entertainers. They are individuals who care deeply about conveying truth through a chosen medium. These individuals would practice their craft no matter if they were paid or not. This is the kind of artist I am suggesting ministers should be.
Here are some certain characteristics preachers should imitate as they work to craft and deliver a sermon each week.
An artist finds creative ways to engage the audience. They contemplate how they want to convey their message. An artist does not just seek to report the facts, they seek to engage and move individuals. Artists are creative individuals. They do not just speak truth, they speak truth in a meaningful way. When this is done properly it changes people lives and perspectives. They begin to understand things about themselves that they did not understand before. They begin to see the world in a whole new light. The role of the artist is important, powerful, and meaningful.
Artists often see things others do not. They have vision. They are able to identify truth, beauty, injustice and other things people often miss. They use their vision to make people aware of what is going on, and to present these truths in a unique way.
A true artist creates out of necessity. Jeremiah described this as a fire in his bones. This can lead to rejection, persecution, or even death. It is a deep burning from within to speak truth and bring attention to the things one is passionate about. This is what Jeremiah had, and it is also something characteristic of true artists.
Artists do not stand alone. What they create is unique and original, but they have been influenced by many who have come before them. They honor and pay tribute to the artists who inspired them, and they understand they are only one in a long line of others who have come before. Preaching is very similar. The minister stands in a long line of other preachers and theologians who have come before. The minister needs to understand that his work should be both original and influenced by others.
Artists have a unique style. It’s easy to recognize a Springsteen song or a Scorcese film because of their unique style. Over the years they have developed a style that works for them. They are not bound to this style, but you can usually recognize elements of it even when they venture to do something different. A preacher must find his own unique style. This is something no one else can do for you, and it may take years to figure out.
True artists are genuine and real. They do not fake it. They seek to be open and honest because they understand this is a necessity for what they do. If they are not open and honest, then they understand that what they have created is cheapened. Integrity is essential to a true artist.