Preaching to People in Pain

How Suffering Can Shape Your Sermons and Connect with Your Congregation

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Offering an important corrective to a pain-averse culture that celebrates individualism and success, experienced preacher and teacher Matthew Kim encourages pastors to preach on the painful issues their congregations face. Through vulnerability and self-disclosure, pastors can help their congregants share their suffering in community for the purpose of healing and transformation. The book includes stories, shares relevant Scripture texts imparting biblical wisdom, and offers best practices for preaching on specific topics. Each chapter ends with discussion questions and a sample sermon.


Part 1: Naming the Pain
1. The Preacher's Pain
2. The Listeners' Pain
3. A Plan for Preaching on Pain
Part 2: Preaching on Pain
4. Painful Decisions
"The Anatomy of a Bad Decision" (Sermon on 1 Samuel 15)
5. Painful Finances
"The Secret to Contentment" (Sermon on Philippians 4:10-20)
6. Painful Health Issues
"Panhandling for True Satisfaction" (Sermon on Acts 3:1-10)
7. Painful Losses
"Successful Suffering" (Sermon on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
8. Painful Relationships
"Honoring Mom as Honoring God" (Sermon on Ruth 1-4)
9. Painful Sins
"The God of Fourth Chances" (Sermon on John 21:15-25)
Appendix: Worksheet for Understanding Pain


"Frederick Buechner famously wrote that the preacher should not be like the captain of a ship 'who is the only one aboard who . . . does not know that the waves are twenty feet high.' Preaching to pain clearly indicates that we understand that there are waves. Confessing our own pain as part of that process indicates that we have had to navigate the waves too. Matthew Kim addresses the waves and rides them with his readers to teach us all how to navigate life's storms by the light of our Savior's heart."

Bryan Chapell, pastor emeritus, Grace Presbyterian Church; president emeritus, Covenant Seminary; author of Christ-Centered Preaching

"Preaching to People in Pain could also be called Preaching to Humans. In a culture which makes us believe something is wrong with us when we experience suffering, preachers have a choice: to provide shallow promises or to trust in the truth of our story--that resurrection only comes after death. With wisdom and courage Matthew Kim invites preachers to name their own pain for the sake of their own health and the health of their congregations. We're presented with the hopeful possibility that together we have the capacity for the challenges of life and that as we face them, we find the truth of our story in solidarity with our suffering (and resurrected) Lord."

Mandy Smith, pastor and author of The Vulnerable Pastor and Unfettered: Imagining a Childlike Faith Beyond the Baggage of Western Culture

The Author

  1. Matthew D. Kim

    Matthew D. Kim

    Matthew D. Kim (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the George F. Bennett Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology, director of the Haddon W. Robinson Center for Preaching, and director of Mentored Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in...

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