Kierkegaard once told a story about the time a fire broke out in a great theater. Hoping to avoid a panic, they send out a famous actor to make the evacuation announcement. He explains what is happening and what they need to do and the crowd thinks it is part of the show and gives him applause. Worried, the actor continues and repeats with passion the life-saving instructions. They repeat their applause. As the actor pleads with them to run, they shout bravos while the walls of the theater crash in around them. What they needed that day was a word they regarded as authentic. Preaching is more than a performance. We need to give the audience an authentic word.

 

 

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J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.