I love how Stan Hauerwas discusses preaching in his intro to A Cross Shattered Church. Warning: you might not like this if your preacher tells cute stories and never talks about sin, death, or hell.
“…When a sermon is thought to be no more than a speech by the minister to provide advice to help us negotiate life, the content of sermons usually are exemplifications of the superficial and sentimental pieties of a liberal culture. Then we wonder why the mainstream church is dying. Why do you need to come to church to be told that we ought to treat everyone with dignity? Why do you need to come to church to be told we ought to share some of what we have with those who do not have as much as we have? Why do you need to come to church to be told that children say the darndest things? Why do you need to come to church to hear stories that give us insight into the human condition?
“I suspect preachers fall into these familiar traps because not only do we not expect God to show up, but we also do not trust those to whom we preach. God knows we all want to be liked. We want to preach sermons the congregation will ‘like.’ Moreover it is hard to preach the truth to those one has come to love. But the truth of the gospel is a harsh and dreadful truth. It is a truth through which we come to recognize that when all is said and done we are sinners who would prefer to live as if God does not exist.”