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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting" (Sam Serio)

TITLE: Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting
AUTHOR: Sam Serio
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2016, (208 pages).

It has been said that preachers generally have two tasks in their preaching. They need to speak in a way that afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. The Holy Spirit often uses powerful preaching to do wonders and convicts the complacent. With regard to gentle care, encouragement, and comfort, it calls for sensitive preaching. In this book, the focus is on recognizing the presence of hurt and pain in the congregation gathered each week and to work on three stages of preparation:
  1. The Heart of the Preacher
  2. The Message
  3. The Future
First and foremost, it is about the heart of the preacher. This means opening one'e eyes to the reality of hurting and to establish empathy with the people sitting at the pews. No empathy, no connection. No connection, no relevance in the preaching. One key area is sexuality. While it is good to talk about the ideals and the perfection God requires, truth is, many are sexually hurting in many different ways. There are those who felt guilt because of casual sex, abortion, or some past sexual assaults. There are those who had suffered rape, same-sex attraction, and unnatural sexual feelings. There are also victims of abuse and addicts to pornography and prostitution. Most worrying of all, these remain hidden from others, to the point that one often hurts or suffers alone. How can the minister speak into all of these? It begins with realization that this world is far more broken than we think. Author Sam Serio notes that preachers are often preach in a "negligent or negative" way. Instead, they are to open their eyes not only to the harvest but also to the personal "wreckage" for the person(s) sitting at the pews. It is a tough balancing act to convict at times and to comfort at other times. The key question Serio poses is:

"Do I publicly communicate about sex in such a way that people would want to come to me for additional counseling afterwards OR do I preach in such a way that they would not want to come to me for counseling after they just heard what I said and also how I said it on a typical Sunday?"
It is hoped that preachers and pastors would communicate both warmth and wisdom in all their sermons. Good preachers will communicate with open eyes, listening ears, understanding minds, compassionate hearts, and gentle voice. Too much to ask? That's why preaching must never be done in one's own strength. Calling this book the first of its kind to preachers, preachers are urged to prepare and to be aware of the reality of sexual violence and brokenness in their congregations. He begins with a statement of the seven biblical truths:

  1. Church is the best place to be when seeking sexual healing
  2. Church should be uplifting though not necessarily upbeat
  3. Church is where we deal, not deny problems
  4. Church is where we confess our sins rather than conceal
  5. Preaching about sex doesn't mean some of us are guilty
  6. The pulpit is for proclamation and communication, not adoration
  7. Good preaching can be gentle and soft rather than harsh and loud.

Preaching is not simply about the preacher. It is also very much about the people gathered at the pews. Serio sets the stage further by pointing out the frequent bold teachings in the Bible by the Apostle Paul; in the Torah; and throughout the Bible. He then goes into how we can prepare such messages in eight key areas.

  1. Preaching on Sex
    - We learn of ten principles to adopt and delivery methods.
  2. Casual Sex
    - speaking to individuals with biblical examples in a sexually charged culture
  3. Abortion
    - understand from both the little people being aborted as well as the adults considering the aborting
  4. Sexual Assaults and Rape
    - Not restricted to the physical act; but also the emotional trauma; the relational avoidance; the lack of understanding; and the many unspoken factors
  5. Childhood Sexual Abuse
    - understanding the emotional difficulties of victims and the honestly grapple with the deep consequences of a human race under the bondage of sin
  6. Pornography
    - the importance of getting to the roots of addiction that exposes a wide variety of emotional, sexual, interpersonal, and marital issues.
  7. Same-Sex Attraction
    - an increasingly sensitive and explosive topic, we learn about the flaws of various viewpoints and learn the importance of consistency in our interpretation of the Bible. He shows us the three main reasons for people engaging in homosexual activities: Pain, Pleasure, Parents. This is followed by ten tips in helping homosexuals.
  8. Marital Situations
    - from sexless marriages to frustrations in relationships, we learn about rejections, resignations, replacements, and all forms of emotional struggles. 

Each step of the way, Serio takes effort to ensure that every chapter is easily understood. He lays down the foundational principles and biblical teachings regarding the area of sexuality and attempts to speak with wisdom into each of the listed sexuality issue. Besides dealing with the eight key areas, he boldly looks forward to the challenges to the Church. He issues 14 bold statements which is worth the price of this book. We need to counter the world of sexual hype with genuine hope. We need to minister boldly to a hurting generation. We need to produce literature and materials that offer wholesome perspectives on the area of sexuality. We need to cultivate good and honest relationships both inside and outside the home. We need to develop a safe and honest environment for people to share and to find healing. Plus many more.

What I like about this book is the experience and the understanding Serio has of the mind of the preacher. He takes care to give biblical teachings and references. He lists easy to follow pointers that can be quickly adapted and applied in preparing messages. Most of all, he conveniently puts together a whole list of important but often avoided topics we need to preach on. The illustrations from real life situations makes the book very relevant indeed.

Sam Serio is an experienced counselor and pastor for over 35 years. He is Founder and President of Healing Sexual Hurt ministries (www.HealingSexualHurt.com), based in Atlanta, Georgia. He also speaks reguarly at churches and conferences.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Academic without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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