The Dodgers are perhaps my second or third favorite major league basball team. I especially enjoyed watching them in the 1980s. (Maybe more because they beat Reggie Jackson and the Yankees when my KC Royals didn’t)
Two of the greatest Dodger personalities of all time were Vin Sculley and Tommy Lasorda. Sculley was the Shakespeare of Baseball commentary calling Dodger games for over 50 years. Lasorda, a hall of fame coach with multiple World Series wins. How do these two men relate to my blog today on preaching? Keep these two men in mind as I explain.
As a preacher I want to be open to discovery and improvement. Honestly if I don’t occasionally experience some improvement in my preaching my ministry becomes stale.
Today as I was studying for my Sunday morning message, I realized a weakness I have in sermon formatting and composition. I shy away from offending my hearers by presenting truth in a sterile format. I use the third person instead of the first or second person. This permits the listener to remain on the outside as an observer rather than forcing them to step inside the message as a participant.
It’s the difference between a Sculley and a Lasorda. Sculley sits in the booth and talks to the fans about the game, the players, the strategies, the rules, etc. He may be considered an expert but he is distant and removed from the game. He works to be objective and report on the game as a third person. Sculley uses words like “they and he.” “He was behind the pitch.” “They need to play harder.” The Sculley, as good as he is, is still outside the game.
But Lasorda was in the game. He cared more about the outcome of the game than Sculley. His job security and future negotiating leverage was at stake. So he addressed players directly. He used “you” more than the Scully did. “Here’s what YOU need to do.” Here’s how YOU can inprove.” Lasorda got personal. And sometimes offended players.
And that’s why I avoid the Lasorda approach and favor the Sculley approach. I want to explain truth without becoming offensive. But I’m learning that this approach creates fans who know the game, can discuss strategies, and watch victories; it does not develop players who are playing the game, living out the life, experiencing victory.
So in order to become more effective in my preaching, and develop players instead of just fans, I will need to change my pronouns, get more personal and think more like Tommy Lasorda.