What Is Homiletics?
homiletics [Greek homiletikos > homilos (to assemble, to put many pieces together)] the art and craft of preaching. This is usually taught in a seminary, to the future ordained ministers of the church. The usual result is that the student who comes in with little ability to preach is able to become passable in speaking about gospel truths to a large group of people, in the form of a sermon or homily.
The core of preaching is to draw those truths from Scripture and share them with the people at hand, so they can live by the Word. They encounter Jesus through the preaching. While this purpose is a good one, it is not achieved just by presentation alone, but by living out a life of faith in Christ among, and in full view of, those same people and their neighbors, colleagues, and families, including the non-Christians, once the sermon is over. It's about being with them and being part of the presence of God with them, in marriage and divorce, baptisms and funerals, youth and old age, loss and love. The whole of an ordained minister's life is meant to be dedicated to being a presentation or living example of the Good News. This can't be done by just a few words in a homily on Sunday. And even a great homily adds up to little if the Holy Spirit Holy Ghost does not empower it in those who hear it. (Without the Spirit, the hearer will not encounter God in the Word that is preached.) The Spirit's work through a preacher, in turn, does not usually take effect outside of much prayer not rote and learning from the Bible thinking, and outside of a real love for those to whom the preacher speaks. This is the core of homiletics, rightly understood. Sermons do not stand by themselves, but are part of the life of the faith community. Far too many ministers forgot that somewhere along the way.
For presenting the gospel truths and their meaning in today's world, there are other ways than preaching sermons. Many people do not respond well at all to listening to someone speak to them for 15 to 30 minutes on some matter. It's a problem for schools, training seminars, events, and public meetings, not just church.
What's the Matter With Sermons?
So, what's the problem with sermons?
A Short Homily on Preaching
Most seminaries and Bible schools are only beginning to get at the problems of homiletic method, don't really understand today's people, and do a poor job of guiding their future ministers into a life that is not just vaguely spiritual, but specifically Christlike. (They're taught the importance of belief in the head, but their own faith is not well-nurtured.) Even worse, some budding young preachers are paper-trained into a mindset for writing homilies to preach about the importance of sermons. As long as this foundation remains so soft, the sermon, in whatever form, will keep dying, and no class in homiletics or the 'art' (or even science) of preaching will save it.
You can also check the dictionary for homiletics and to preach. But church leaders need to redefine preaching and homiletics.
Not to be mistaken for homieletics, preaching to your neighborhood supporters and friends. Homieletics is a cousin word to the phrase 'preaching to the choir', and is done just as loudly but a bit more carefully.