Great ideas sometimes come from unusual places — like the comic pages.
While many people claim that they turn first to the news or editorials or even the sports pages, I’m honest enough to admit that I immediately flip the newspaper open to the comics.
Since my hometown papers have singularly unimpressive comic pages (having placed an absurdly high priority on things like crime news), one of the bright sides of my travel schedule is the chance to catch up on some enjoyable comic strips I don’t ordinarily get to see — like Kudzu.
For the uninitiated, Kudzu is a cartoon strip by Doug Marlette set in a small, Southern town. It deals with the lives of all the characters you’d expect to reside in such a place. If you’ve never spent time in a Southern town, you wouldn’t understand them anyway.
My favorite character, as might be expected, is the Preacher — Rev. Will B. Dunn. During a recent trip to a city with a newspaper of sufficient quality to publish Kudzu, I enjoyed reading about the Preacher’s concern over an impending visit from the sermon reviewer at Steeple magazine. (A great name! Why didn’t we think of that one?)
That’s when the idea came to me: we ought to publish a regular sermon review!
Why not? After all, newspapers and TV stations have been reviewing movies, plays, concerts and other events for years. If Siskel and Ebert can protect you from poor plot development and Sylvester Stallone, why can’t we protect unsuspecting congregations from weak exegesis and insipid illustrations?
Think of the possibilities. Bishops consulting our sermon reviews as they consider annual assignments (“Hmm. Four stars on that last sermon series. Maybe he’s ready for suburban church after all.”) Pastor search committees comparing reviews as they evaluate candidates. Homiletics professors pointing to our reviews as guides for their classes of budding young theologues.
Think of the opportunities! Think of the potential! Think of the power! (Oops, that last one sort of slipped out. Don’t think about that one after all.)
So, recently we gathered the staff of Preaching together to plan our move. (Since you can comfortably fit our staff into a phone booth, such meetings aren’t a big deal but they’re a great excuse for lunch.) And that’s when we discovered the big problem that will prohibit our exciting new sermon review column.
Basically, none of our staff is willing to sit through all those sermons. But we are seriously considering a column of restaurant reviews — we had several volunteers to work on that one.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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