C.S. Lewis On Writing (and preaching)

C.S. Lewis once said, “In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is ‘terrible,’ describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was ‘delightful’; make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, ‘Please, will you do my job for me.'”

That’s great advice for writers. It’s also great advice for preachers.

There’s a temptation each week to settle for simply telling people about the holiness of God, the tenderness of Christ, the agonies of the cross or the hope of glory. It’s much easier to simply use words that accurately describe the reality, and then let them do the hard work of supplying the appropriate affections.

But, to borrow Lewis’ point, my job is to preach in such a way as to help actually stir up the approriate emotional response in my hearers. They should hear God’s word and feel genuine fear, hope, sorrow, tenderness, or love.

This is hard work, and thus the temptation to settle for less in always nipping at my heels. It requires me to:

  1. Study enough to understand whatever the text communicates about God and His work.
  2. Meditate and pray about the appropriate response to whatever the text communicates about God and his work.
  3. Prayerfully think about my congregation. What inhibits them from having this proper response? What sins and barriers make it difficult for them to be affected properly by these truths?
  4. Carefully choose words that will help lead them towards having those affections.
  5. Cultivate those affections in my own heart and life so that I can preach with integrity and genuinely model for my hearers how they should respond. There are few things worse than someone speaking of glorious truths with a flat affect.




One Response to “C.S. Lewis On Writing (and preaching)”

  1. excelente!

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