by Robert Earl Houston
Let me begin by saying the photo has nothing to do with this article. No inference. No suggestive references. Nada. Nothing.
Kinda like some preaching . . .
I’m a student of preaching and preaching styles, but, nothing boils my blood worst than to hear a minister, dressed and coiffed, hit the pulpit, read a scripture, and then commit preaching which does not engage, expose or elaborate upon the selected text.
Again, it’s like this picture of Cee Lo Green and his cat, Purrfect – it has nothing to do with this article.
A few years ago Carole King wrote a memorable song, “You’re so vain . . . you probably think this song is about you . . .” The reality is that preaching a sermon should emanate or at least be anchored by a text.
Preaching is not ranting and raving. Preaching is not trying to score points. Preaching is not about “finding” a scripture to back up a cute phrase you heard on television. Years ago, I heard a preacher preach a sermon “My savior has a first name, J-E-S-U-S” – I literally had to excuse myself from the worship (I was playing the organ that Sunday) because I couldn’t stop laughing uncontrollably. I would like to suggest three things here:
FIRST, ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GIVE YOU A TEXT.
I know that sounds trivial, but the basic premise of preaching is that you preach the Word of God. The Scriptures. Whether it’s a scripture just for the next preaching event, or a series – it all begins with a text. You need to ask God, who is the author, for the text. Even if you don’t understand it at the initial point, get to know the text.
SECONDLY, REMEMBER SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT THE TEXT.
Understand that the text is not for your benefit primarily. God is using you to speak through to touch the heart, soul and mind of a listener or a group of listeners. Therefore, the primary purpose of preaching is to proclaim what God is saying to that person or group. While they’re going through their seasons of life, you need to stick to the text. While they’re going through transitions, you need to stick to the text. Illustrations and ideas might be okay, but if they remember your story more than they remember the text, you’ve missed the mark.
THIRDLY, THE TEXT SHOULD BE GIVEN DUE DILIGENCE
Expository preaching is not easy. It’s work. You’re going to have to deal with context, culture, language, history, syntax, grammar – you know, all of that stuff you hated in school. You cannot adequately approach the text and proclaim it without doing your homework. I will forever be indebted to Drs. R.A. Williams, Jr., Larry L. Harris (deceased), and George Waddles, Sr., whose conference, WHW (www.whwministries.com) opened my eyes to expository preaching. The ending sound of a sermon is hollow if you haven’t exegeted the text. A loud noise may excite the crowd but they’ll go home hungry and an hour later they won’t remember the sermon. They use to have a saying “dig your own well” and I say that to you today – dig, dig, dig.
Dig until your eyes hurt.
Dig until you’ve wore your computer out.
Dig until you’ve looked at every aspect of the text.
Don’t go to the pulpit with a word from the Lord and they leave with a word from you.
Your comments are welcomed!
SPARTANSBURG, SC – Bishop Keith Cornell Smith, pastor of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Homegoing services are pending.
Below is a pastoral history from the website, http://www.foundationforchrist.net:
On October 19, 1964, Keith Cornell Smith was born to Mr. & Mrs. Ruben Smith, Sr. in Cleveland, Mississippi. He is the youngest of five children; he has two brothers and two sisters. Keith was reared in a God fearing home, along with his brothers and sisters. They had to attend Sunday School and Church every Sunday. As children they would play Church and Keith would be the preacher. Keith would preach and his siblings would sing and shout. As a young boy, Keith always said he was going to be a preacher one day. The children would also have funerals for the neighborhood pets, as well their own pets and Keith would always preach the funerals. He attended H. M. Nailor Elementary School, and it was there while on the playground the Lord called Keith to preach. He was ten years old and in the fifth grade. Keith came home from school that day and told his older sister Carol that the Lord had called him to preach. After having many discussions with his parents, Keith started his journey in the ministry. He and his father spent many, many hours studying the word of God.
Bishop Smith received his Bachelors of Theology form the St. Stephens Bible College, Los Angeles, Ca. He continued his education at the Morris-Booker Memorial College in Dermott, Ark. where he received his Masters of Divinity degree and also his Honorary Doctor of Letters. He holds a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Tennessee School of Religion in Memphis, Tenn.
Keith preached his first sermon on Christmas Day of 1974, at the United Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Mississippi where the Rev. Sammie Rash is still the Pastor. Keith was ordained on January 12, 1975 by Rev. Rash.
Bishop Keith Smith immediately went about his Father’s business. He became an Evangelist, traveling the country preaching God’s Word. His first stop was Pittsburgh, California where he preached his first City Wide Revival. Bishop Smith spent the next eight years traveling the countryside spreading the Gospel. In 1975, Bishop recorded his first album “Be Ready Judgment Day is Coming”. Over the next five years, Bishop Smith went on to record three more albums, “Christ is the Hope of the World” and “Ain’t No Stopping Me Now” parts one and two.
Because of the albums that had been recorded, he was receiving worldwide recognition. Every Sunday night on WLAC radio station Nashville, Tennessee, you could hear Bishop Smith preaching with the likes of the Rev. Leo Daniels of Houston, Texas and Rev. Sammie Rash of Cleveland, Mississippi. People began to call because they wanted to hear the child protégé. So he began to travel extensively across America. Packing out churches and auditoriums. As he grew older in age, he grew larger in statue. As he grew older the phenomenon of the child preacher grew off because of his size. So people were not coming to hear the child but the preacher he was becoming. Bishop preached for the late Rev. James Cleveland at the workshop in Detroit in August of 1979 to a massive crowd of seven thousand. He was one of the three preachers to pack out the historical Mercy Seat Baptist Church Chicago Illinois. The others were the late Rev. C. L. Franklin and our speaker Sunday night Rev. Jasper Williams. As you see, Bishop was in good company. He has also preached for many great Men of God, such as Jasper Williams, E. V. Hill, Donald Parson, Paul Morton, and innumerable times in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. But Bishop has never stopped striving to be the man that God has called him to be.
At the age of nineteen, Bishop was called to his first church, Mount Level, in Sardis, Mississippi. He rendered services to them for six months. He was then called to Mount Tabor Baptist Church in Magnolia, Arkansas. This would be Bishop’s first full time pastorage. He knew he had the voice. He knew he had the charisma, but he needed the education. As fifth generation preacher in the Smith family, it was a mandate on Bishop to become equipped with the academic skills that he would need to prepare him for the future. Bishop received a Bachelor Degree from Magnolia Baptist Bible College. While in Arkansas, he met and married the late Elizabeth Frazier to whom he remained a devoted husband until her death in 1998. After leaving Arkansas the Lord sent him to the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became to pastor of the ‘Higher Dimension Missionary Baptist Church”.
Bishop Smith later relocated to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he met and married the former, Gytanna Ellis. Bishop and Mrs. Smith are the proud parents of Jeneshia, Shawn, Vincent, Brandon and Dennis. Bishop Smith has been a citizen of the upstate for 10 years. He organized the Word of Deliverance Church in Chesnee, South Carolina. In 1999, Bishop Smith was called to the Center Rabun Baptist Church in Gray Court, South Carolina, where he remained pastor for four years. The Time of Decision Telecast was birthed out of this ministry along with many other ministries. Bishop Smith was consecrated Bishop in August 2002 as a part of the Grace International Fellowship in Milwaukee, WI. He currently serves on the council of bishops of Grace International Fellowship. Having its first services in the Magnolia Room of the Ramada Inn on I-85 and I-26 and now relocated to 570 Magnolia Street. It was truly a move of God. The sanctuary was totally renovated, new instruments, new sound equipment and digital equipment for the television ministry was acquired. He also transformed the existing children’s daycare ministry which housed 20 children to an enrollment of 80 children today. This ministry also provides after school care for underprivileged neighborhood children at no charge to enhance there quality of life. It also provides food pantry and clothing ministry where people come weekly to receive assistance. It is the vision of Bishop to revitalize the magnolia, ridge street area with affordable housing and give to give people a hand up not a hand out. Plans are being drawn as we speak for this area. In 2005 the ministry will be acquiring a boarding home for teenagers who are on the street and for teenage pregnant mothers. The ministry has 25 adopted homes in the Northside and Oakview community which it provides all the monthly necessities. We look forward in January 2005 to renovations on the daycare center, due to a grant received from the city.
It is our prayer that the Lord will keep Bishop Smith with his mind stayed on him. Ever striving to do ministry in the heart of the urban community and we look forward to 30 more years.