Often gravitating toward the Bible stories because of their great truths, Dr. Frymire looks for more than the obvious when he preaches and teaches. Instead, he finds the problem in the passage to tell the story in a fresh way, wedding the Bible story with an effective, creative and novel preaching practice.
“I think boring sermons are a sin,” Dr. Jeff Frymire, Associate Professor of Homiletics on the Florida Dunnam Campus, said. “It takes an awful lot of work to take the most exciting book that’s ever been written and make it boring.”
Dr. Frymire preaches once a month and leads the young adult ministry at the Solid Rock Church of God in Kissimmee, Fla. His most recent message explored the showdown between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. Even without dew or rain for three years and the country in serious drought, Elijah still found water to pour over his sacrifice to the Lord. But, where did he find the water?
“I liked that problem and thought that was worth exploring,” Dr. Frymire said. “After work and research, I discovered that there were only two probable places to obtain water. One was Ahab’s palace, and the other was in the temple of Baal because Baal was the God of fire and water.”
In his message, Dr. Frymire examined the irony of pouring water that had been dedicated to a false god over a sacrifice designed to obtain God’s favor. He believes that is why God not only consumed the sacrifice with fire, but also lapped up the water in the trench.
“If you’re scratching your head and wondering why yourself, then people are more likely to be engaged,” he said. “Rather than standing up and saying, ‘I know the truth and I’ll pour information into your head,’ I invite listeners to come on a journey with me and discover the truth as we go along together.”
In addition to preaching, Dr. Frymire also serves as the Dean of Chapel on the Florida Dunnam Campus and teaches a variety of classes in his role as professor. These classes include Vocation of Ministry, Worship and Introduction to Preaching. This January, he’ll also be teaching a class entitled Public Reading of Scripture.
This class is based on the premise that most post-seminarians will read Scripture in public even more often than they will preach. Therefore, vocal dynamics, pace and emphasis are especially important.
“The Bible is an exciting book,” Dr. Frymire said. “Most of the time it’s being read by someone who hasn’t really read the passage and hasn’t thought about it. I want to teach my students some principles for reading and interpreting Scripture in a public place.”
As in a public speaking class, students will learn the basic principles of presentation, but relate that to Scripture reading. The course will teach students how to select words to emphasize and ways to read lists and tricky passages without making common mistakes.
Dr. Frymire encourages his students to remove punctuation from passages, especially the Apostle Paul’s run-on sentences and insert commas and periods where they make sense to encourage inflection. To illustrate that it’s not what you say, but how you say it, Dr. Frymire has his students play a board game called Moods.
The game has cards with varying moods and phrases. Without using gestures, each player must communicate the appropriate mood of anger, happiness, confusion, sadness or frustration through tone alone.
“Whether a narrative story or somebody writing a letter to someone else, the Bible is full of emotion and moods,” Dr. Frymire said. “The way you project those moods can help listeners interpret the meaning of the text in far greater ways than just reading it in a flat way.”
Dr. Frymire became passionate about preaching soon after receiving his call to ministry because he realized he didn’t know how to preach. To him, it seemed terrible to stand in front of a congregation not knowing what to say, how to say it or what to do. As a result, preaching became an absolute fascination to him. As a pastor for 30 years and now as a professor at the Seminary, his life goal is to prepare people for ministry, acts of service and spiritual maturity.
“The Bible doesn’t say that we can save anyone, but it does say to make disciples,” he said. “I’m not responsible to save, but I am responsible to go make disciples by helping others hear, grow in, and be spiritually formed by the gospel.”
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