REFLECTIONS ON PREACHING
I write as one who loves preaching – both as a preacher and a listener – and who believes that preaching the Word is central in corporate worship. I appreciate the diversity of styles, personalities, and approaches to preaching. I have learned through the years to glean something from most preachers, though admittedly I cannot help evaluating when others preach. When I sit and listen, which probably is not often enough, I have some reasonable (at least in my mind) expectations in preaching. Here are a few of my aspirations for preaching:
- I hope that a preacher will come to the pulpit having studied and prayed over a biblical text, having grasped its central meaning, having seized its relevance, having been moved by its message, and having seen how it points to Christ.
- I hope that the preacher will lead me to the worship of a holy and merciful God and not distract me by either his slovenly or flamboyant manner or appearance.
- I hope that he will not think too much about being cool or funny, or Avant-garde with his theology, though he may be naturally cool or funny without trying.
- I hope that when he stands before the people of God that he will speak as one who speaks for God. He will speak boldly (standing erect with feet square and shoulders back – not leaning on the pulpit, not crossing his legs, no hands in the pocket, not nervously shuffling back and forth), clearly (projecting his voice beyond a conversational level, with diction that is precise, and with words that are well chosen), passionately (being personally moved by the implications of this message from God), and humbly (knowing he performs a sacred task which depends upon the Spirit’s power).
- I hope that the introduction will draw me into the message and that the body of the sermon will logically argue the main point while reflecting the biblical text, and that the conclusion will tell me what to do with what I just heard.
- Overall, I hope for an outworking of 2 Timothy 4:1-2 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
May we all be encouraged by those who have proven to be faithful in the task of preaching:
- “We need to pray until our text comes freshly alive to us, the glory shines forth from it, the fire burns in our heart, and we begin to experience the explosive power of God’s Word within us” (John Stott).
- “I preached as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men” (Richard Baxter).
- “Our ministry must be emphatic, or it will never affect these thoughtless times; and to this end our hearts must be habitually fervent, and our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion for the glory of God and the good of men” (C.H. Spurgeon)
- “All Christian preaching should be the exposition and application of biblical texts. Our authority as preachers sent by God rises and falls with our manifest allegiance to the text of Scripture” (John Piper).
- “Lack of intensity in preaching can only communicate that the preacher has never been seriously gripped by the reality of which he speaks – or that the subject matter is insignificant” (John Piper).