Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Whoop

At the Miami Pastors' Conference, one of the best things to experience is the genuine Christian fellowship and laughter. I laugh there and in Chicago at the New Life conference more than any place on earth. That's 'cause the bruthas are silly.

This past conference, Ken Jones, Michael Leach, and Anthony Carter grilled a young man about why he feels compelled to whoop. Now whoopin' is a staple of traditional African-American preaching. If you can't 'hoop, you can't preach. And don't let Leach fool ya; he's a 'hooper :-). Anyway, if you've never seen a preacher 'hoop, it's better to illustrate than describe. Here's a video for the uninitiated.

Now what's new to me in this video is the lady in the corner doing sign language for the hearing impaired. Ever seen a 'hoop signed??? She's smooth with it. Check her out as the preacher gets rolling!


Jerry said...

While this "white boy" would never claim to be able to "whoop", there was one instance when the black church characteristics of congregational participation in the sermon came in very handy.

About 15 years ago I was invited to "attend" a Race Relations Sunday afternoon service at a neighboring black church. I was a bit surprised when the pastor ushered me up to sit on the platform, especially as there were plenty of other clergy, both black and white, in attendance, and all of them were sitting in the pews.

It was not until the time to "lift the offering" when the pastor (now at home with the Lord) introduced the guest preacher for the day, ME! As you can only imagine, I was a bit stunned.

As the offering was lifted I concluded that the message that I had preached that morning to my congregation was probably not suitable for such an august occasion. Thinking back, I remembered the major points of an appropriate message I had preached a couple of months prior, but it was only the thinnest of outlines.

Fortunately, I discovered that day that a "white boy" can turn 10 minutes of material into a 40 minute sermon, with the right audience. Anything less would have been seen as an insult.

Trust me when I say that I have never again attended a meeting of this type without having a suitable sermon outline tucked into my Bible. "Always be ready", or is that "Be Prepared"?

Cornelius said...

I love Rev. Clay Evans!

FellowElder said...

"Be ready to keep from having to get ready."


ajcarter said...


I do believe that most of the grilling came from Pastor T, himself :-).

I also believe that young man knows that we love him and care for his soul and future in ministry.

Also, when you say that Michael is a whooper, he say rightly. He would not agree, but we know and have experienced otherwise. Not only can he whoop, but we saw from this past conference that he also can speak in other tongues :-).

Lastly, I too love the joy, laughter, and down-to-earth nature of the conferences. In fact one attendee said that he is so encouraged with the fact that the speakers are approachable and available. And yet, beyond the laughter, the thing that gets me most is the sober-minded nature of preaching and teaching. I have attended and participated in too many conferences to name, but I have not heard or been challenged with any better preaching than that of Michael Leach on Saturday morning of this past conference.

As a result of that sermon, I am still challenging myself to preach better. Whoop or no whoop, that was preaching par excellance.

ThirstyDavid said...


I hesitate to be critical of something I admit I don't understand, but I have an observation and a question.

First, the observation: the preacher took a long time to say very little, and I wonder if the message might get lost in the manufactured mood--which brings me to my question: could a real exposition be effectively preached in this style? If attempted, might the congregation be likely to leave the assembly with little retention of the message, but feeling really groovy?

These are things a white man nurtured by John MacArthur sermons thinks about. Also, before asking, I downloaded a coupe of your sermons from your church website (after having met and heard you at T4G), and I can't help noticing that you don't preach this way. Is that because your congregation is (or, judging by the church website, appears to be) predominantly white, or is there some other reason?

By the way, I'm not a total killjoy. I thought the preacher in the video was cool, and the message was good. However, after watching, what I'm most inspired to do is turn on Louis Armstrong.

FellowElder said...

Hi David,

You understand pretty well. Your critiques/observations would pretty much be my critique of the style. As far as I'm concerned, any exposition goes up in smoke by the time you reach a 'hoop like this. And it subtly teaches that the climax isn't the gospel or the truth stemming from exposition but the catharsis or celebration, as some put it.

The analysis of any style is not about being white or black or whatever. This style hinders understanding and reduces preaching to an emotional aim. It's a form of eloquence, which the apostolic example eschewed. That's why I don't preach this way. And, obviously, it doesn't communicate well across cultures. The congregation here includes 30 nationalities or so. I don't think members of the church would regard us as predominantly white???

By the way, I was joking when I said Michael Leach was a 'hooper. He's certainly not a 'hooper in the sense that this kind of sermonic style overwhelms the text and message.

ThirstyDavid said...


Thanks. As for the ethnicity of your church, I was only going by a quick look at a couple of pictures. And I don't know who Michael Leach is, but I pretty much figured you were having some fun at a friend's expense. I think that's permissible. In fact, I encourage it.

Hayden said...

Okay, I had a funny thought. What if members of the T4g 'team' tried to hoop, do you think they could do it?

Ligon? [I think there might be a little in him]

Mark? [No way]

Al? [I think he would hurt himself trying]

Cj? [Oh, yeah]

Johnny Mac? [No way]

RC? [I can't imagine it]

John Piper? [I think he could do it]

you? [yeah you could pull it off]

Just a funny thought that came to my head. By the way, you are right that lady was really smooth. She was really getting into it. Thanks for the laugh.