Monday, May 17, 2010

The Power and Authority of Preaching

“Thats My King” (play the MP3 in a popup window; download the MP3 or the PDF)

Dr. Shadrach Meshach (S.M.) Lockridge (March 7, 1913 – April 4, 2000) was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation located in San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993. He was known for his preaching across the United States and around the world, especially for sermons “That’s My King” and It’s Friday but Sundays Coming.

What is preaching all about?

One resource I highly recommend to you is the book
"Preaching and Preachers" by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In page 97, Lloyd-Jones defined preaching:

“What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! It is theology on fire! Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead on to this. A man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.

What is the chief end of preaching? It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.”
Perhaps A.W. Tozer said it best with regards preachers and preaching. Decades ago, Tozer declared in his essay “The Old Cross and The New” that preachers are not diplomats but prophets and their message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

Posted below are excerpts of the commencement address and charge to the graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered December 12, 2008 in Alumni Chapel by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President. Setting aside for the moment the differences which independent Baptists have with the SBC, Mohler’s message (edited version is in his website; audio also available) defines excellently what preaching is all about.

In 1971, just six years after being invited to teach New Testament and preaching at the Graduate Seminary of Phillips University, Fred Craddock put his thoughts on preaching into a book. That book, As One Without Authority, launched something of a revolution in preaching. Craddock proposed that preaching was on trial in the contemporary church, and that it was fast becoming an anachronism.

He reflected that the church might "celebrate the memory of preaching in ways appropriate to her gratitude and to affix plaques on old pulpits as an aid to those who tour the churches." Yet, he warned, "the church cannot live on the thin diet of fond memories."

Why did Craddock see such disaster for the pulpit? Among other contributing factors, Craddock cited "the loss of certainty and the increase in tentativeness on the part of the preacher."

As he explained:

Rarely, if ever, in the history of the church have so many firm periods slumped into commas and so many triumphant exclamation marks curled into question marks. Those who speak with strong conviction on a topic are suspected of the heresy of premature finality. Permanent temples are to be abandoned as houses of idolatry; the true people of God are in tents again. It is the age of journalistic theology; even the Bible is out in paperback.

The result:

As a rule, younger ministers are keenly aware of the factors discussed above, and their preaching reflects it. Their predecessors ascended the pulpit to speak of the eternal certainties, truths etched forever in the granite of absolute reality, matters framed for proclamation, not for discussion. But where have all the absolutes gone? The old thunderbolts rust in the attic while the minister tries to lead his people through the morass of relativities and proximate possibilities, and the difficulties involved in finding and articulating a faith are not the congregation's alone; they are the minister's as well. How can he preach with a changing mind? How can he, facing new situations by the hour, speak the approximate word? He wants to speak and yet he needs more time for more certainty before speaking. His is often the misery of one who is always pregnant but never ready to give birth.

Craddock's eloquent way of describing this looming disaster in the pulpit still impresses. Periods turned to commas and exclamation points curled into question marks; thunderbolts left in the attic as the preacher suffers as one pregnant but never able to give birth. This is an eloquent warning, but it is a seductive eloquence.

Professor Craddock's warning retains the ring of the contemporary almost four decades after it was sounded. His description of the pulpit's problem remains cogent and even prophetic when we observe the emaciated state of preaching in far too many churches. The last thing one expects to hear from many pulpits is a thunderbolt.

The title of Craddock's book says it all -- As One Without Authority. The biblical reference is all too clear. In Matthew 7:28-29 we read: "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."

Thus concludes the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew has just taken us through the Sermon and we have heard Jesus set forth a vision of life in the Kingdom of God that transcends our moral imagination and explodes our theological comforts. We thought we knew what God required of us. No murder and no adultery, for example. But Jesus now demands no anger and no lust. "You have heard it was said," he begins, "but I say to you," he concludes.

Jesus refused to act like an argumentative theologian or a speculative moralist. He rejected rabbinical reasoning and moral casuistry. He warns of hell and commands that we love our enemies. He warns us not to trust our bank accounts or retirement plans but to lay up treasures in heaven. He reminds us that we cannot add a day to our lives nor an inch to our height, but assures us that our heavenly Father will clothe us in more glory than the lilies of the field and care for us even more than he cares for the birds of the air.

He tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and promises that all these things will be added to us. We are instructed to judge a tree by its fruit, even as we shall be judged. We are to build our house upon a rock and not upon the sand, for the house on the rock stands while the house on the sand falls, "and great was the fall of it."

Jesus has turned our world upside down. The ones we thought were blessed are now cursed, and the ones we saw as cursed are promised to be blessed. We hear Jesus warn that some who sure look like prophets are false, and hear him say that his judgment will be definitive -- "I never knew you."

Then we hear from the crowd: "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."

The radical nature of Jesus' ministry and teaching is on full display here -- and it is all established upon his own authority. When Jesus teaches, he does not cite human authorities, enter into irrelevant debates, or cushion his words. He speaks on his own authority. He will make that authority clear by healing the sick, casting our demons, staring down the religious authorities, and, most clearly, by forgiving sins. At the end of Matthew's gospel, he will announce that all authority in heaven and on earth has been granted him, and he will send his disciples out into the world as ambassadors of the Gospel.

This is all about authority. There would be no Gospel but for the display of this authority. There would be no church, no salvation, no forgiveness of sins, no hope.

Matthew tells us that the crowds were astonished at his teaching -- astonished. They had never seen or heard anything like this. Every teacher they had ever heard cited other teachers as authorities. Their teachers hemmed and hawed, proposed and retracted, pitted one interpretation against another, and left themselves room for qualification.

The crowds recognized that Jesus teaches with an authority that is unprecedented and singular. He was teaching "as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."

The scribes were the licensed teachers of the law. They interpreted the law by investigating precedent and tradition. Their rulings were approximate and carefully hedged. Nothing was conclusive. Tradition was placed upon tradition; interpretation laid alongside interpretation.

Jesus has already told the crowd that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Now, the crowd sees that the scribes' authority is also just not enough. Once they have heard Jesus, they will never again listen to one without authority -- nor should they.

The situation Fred Craddock described still defines far too many pulpits today. His prescription was inductive preaching -- preaching that leaves the big questions unanswered; that lets the congregation come to its own conclusion. This is not the method of Jesus. Jesus uses induction in his teaching, but he never leaves the big questions unanswered, nor can we. He speaks as God. We speak as His preachers.

The preacher's authority is a delegated authority, but a real authority. We are assigned the task of feeding the flock of God, of teaching the church, of preaching the Word. We do not speak as one who possesses authority, but as one who is called to serve the church by proclaiming, expounding, applying, and declaring the Word of God. We are those who have been called to a task and set apart for mission; as vessels who hold a saving message even as earthen vessels hold water.

Our authority is not our own. We are called to the task of preaching the Bible, in season and out of season. We are rightly to divide the Word of truth, and to teach the infinite riches of the Word of God. There are no certainties without the authority of the Scripture. We have nothing but commas and question marks to offer if we lose confidence in the inerrant and infallible Word of God. There are no thunderbolts where the Word of God is subverted, mistrusted, or ignored.

The crowds were astonished when they heard Jesus, "for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." Congregations are starving for the astonishment of hearing the preacher teach and preach on the authority of the Word of God. If there is a crisis in preaching, it is a crisis of confidence in the Word. If there is a road to recovery, it will be mapped by a return to biblical preaching.

Our hope and prayer is that you will go forth from here to fulfill a ministry of astonishment. To preach and teach and minister so that commas are turned back to periods, and question marks into exclamation points. Congregations long to have the thunderbolts brought down from the attic and loosed in their midst. They are starving for a word from God.

Go and astonish a church. Go and astonish the nations. Go and astonish sinners and saints alike. Go and astonish your generation. Go and astonish those who no longer even believe that they can be astonished.

Go and preach as one who has authority. Just remember always that the only true authority for ministry is biblical authority. May we always be mindful that the only authority that matters is God's authority, and that God's thunderbolts are what we must fear . . . and what we must seek.

If you go out and preach as one who has authority, you will be constantly amazed by what God does through the preaching of his Word. You will see those who hear you astonished -- and no one will be more astonished than yourself.

Further reading (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] Complete text of Craddock’s book “As One Without Authority”

[2] Evaluation of Craddock’s book, by Pastor Sam Horn, Brookside Baptist Church, Milwaukee, USA

[3] “No Authority in the New Homiletic” by Dr. Jim Smyrl, Loyal Heart Ministries (Executive Pastor of Education, First Baptist Church Jacksonville, Florida; Adjunct Instructor of Preaching, Liberty University)
Fred Craddock’s theory of preaching undermines any remnant of a conservative view of scriptural authority, but accomplishes such in a manner that often bears the appearance of a less intrusive force on propositional truth. Craddock suggests that every preacher should pose the question, How does Scripture function in a sermon?

To the novice expositor this question appears foundational in preaching theory. But Craddock’s question leads, when combined with the totality of his theory, to a realignment of the process of sermon development. His theory moves away from a truly authoritative text as a starting point in preaching, and causes the preacher to begin with the sermon in mind rather than the text. This divergence is detrimental because it results in the text serving the sermon rather than the sermon serving the text.
[4] What’s Wrong with Contemporary Preaching? by Dr Johnson Lim Teng Kok, Trinity Theological College, Singapore
Sadly, a few preachers give the impression that preaching is a job to be done rather than a calling to be fulfilled. Therefore, it becomes more of a fulfillment of some contractual obligation to the church rather than a ministry. The danger is that instead of becoming ministry preachers we become professional preachers in the ministry.

Contemporary preaching appears to lack authority, power and boldness. Why? Could it be that the Bible is treated simply as a religious book rather than the Word of God? With no Word to back up, the preacher is deprived and devoid of authority. Preaching also appears to ‘tickle ears’ rather than ‘touching hearts’.

The call to preach is a high and holy calling. It is a serious matter and should not be taken frivolously. To preach the Word of God boringly, lifelessly or indifferently is a travesty of biblical preaching. Hence, all preachers should ‘work out their preaching with fear and trembling’. Since preaching is what a preacher does and is given priority when a church seeks a pastor, some serious reflection is required concerning what preaching is all about.

Haven’t we all had experiences in which the singing was vibrant and exciting but the preaching was stale, insipid and pallid? What was supposed to be a high point in the service ended up as low point? On the other hand, were there not occasions when the worship services appeared like funeral dirges but somehow the unctionised or anointed preaching charged the atmosphere with the presence of God and changed the entire ambiance? It is always possible to have a great worship service but poor preaching can ruin it.
[5] “The Power of Integrity in Preaching”, free e-book download by Dean Shriver, founding pastor of Intermountain Baptist Church, Salt Lake City, Utah (the power of Christ in the preaching of God’s Word with chapters on humility, fidelity to God’s Word, purity of life and mind, spiritual disciplines and expository preaching; 121 pages)

[6] The Primacy of Preaching in a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever (Senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, USA)

[7] The Old Cross and The New, by A. W. Tozer

[8] The Amazing Disappearing and Reappearing Cross, by Bill Fleming

[9] Preaching When Times Are Tight, by David R. Stokes (Senior pastor of Fair Oaks Church in Fairfax, Virginia, USA)

[10] A Healthy Church Member is an Expositional Listener, by Thabiti Anyabwile (Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Cayman Islands; he blogs regularly at Pure Church)

[11] Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor (interview by Phil Miglioratti of Mark Elliott, author of Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor: What Pastors Wish They Could Tell You. ..)

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month. 80% of ministers feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors. 80% of new pastors will leave the ministry within their first five years. 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession and feel their ministry spouse is overworked. 70% of pastors constantly battle with depression. 50% of ministers would leave the ministry if they had another way of earning an income. 85-90% of pastors said their greatest problem is dealing with problem people and disgruntled people.

[12] Praying Preachers, by Ernest V. Liddle

[13] First Sermon Jitters: Help for Aspiring Preachers, by Steve Burchett

[14] Articles by Joe McKeever (Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans)

The Pastor's Second Biggest Job

A Counter-Intuitive Path to Pastoral Success: Make a Mistake

A Conversation with an Unhappy Sheep

Pastor: When Something Doesn't Sound Right

Three Things the New Pastor Wants Most

Pastor, Ask Something Great From Us
Generality is the curse of modern sermons.

I speak as one who has been there, done that.

As a young pastor, I dutifully bought several file cabinets and folders and began amassing clippings for illustrations that would adorn future sermons. In time, the files bulged with items under every conceivable topic. But the thickest folder, the one filled with more illustrations and stories than any ten of the others, was labeled: “Dedication.”

When I couldn’t think of a subject a particular story fit, I'd drop it into that file.

Whether that was the cause or the effect, my early sermons all seemed to issue in one broad invitation for people to “dedicate yourself to Jesus Christ.”

Anything wrong with that? Not as far as it goes. The problem is, it doesn’t go far enough.
[15] Christ-Centered Preaching: Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, by Bryan Chapell (Note: Reformed Presbyterian, covenant theology; free registration required)

Twenty five lessons in PDF and mp3 exploring the unifying principle of grace that binds all Scripture together; Dr. Chapell outlines and demonstrates the principles and practice of sermon crafting and delivery to illuminate the message of grace in each passage, and to submit it to God's Spirit for the transformation of lives through preaching.

[16] Homiletics - The Art of Preaching and Teaching, by Pastor Vincent Sawyer, Faith Bible Institute, a ministry of Faith Baptist Church, Corona, New York (online viewing or HTML format download)

[17] How to Survive the Storms of Pastoral Ministry, by Daniel Henderson

Satan’s strategic darts and doubts are designed to undermine the power of truth. He knows the importance of destroying the integrity and well-being of spiritual leaders in order to decimate the church of Jesus Christ. Pastors and church leaders need to learn about how to prepare for and protect themselves so they can lead effectively and without “losing altitude.” Defying Gravity makes leaders aware of the pitfalls of ministry and equips them with the tools to avoid these temptations and traps by monitoring nine gauges on the “leadership instrument panel.” If you can learn to rely on your instruments, you too can keep your ministry soaring no matter what storms come your way.

[18] Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion, by Wayne Cordeiro (founding pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii)
It was a balmy California evening. I had gone for a jog before I was to speak at a leadership conference. I still can't recall how I got there, but I found myself sitting on a curb weeping uncontrollably. I couldn't tell if it took place suddenly or gradually, but I knew something had broken inside. I remember lifting my trembling hands and asking out loud, “What in the world is happening to me?”

I had been leading on empty.

That incident on a California curb began a three-year odyssey I could never have imagined. It was a journey through a season of burnout and recalibration that would radically change my lifestyle, my values, my goals, and even adjust my calling. Everything I had blissfully taken for granted was about to come under brutal scrutiny.

My vision for the church was barren, and the once alive heart that beat incessantly for others had begun to shrink. Each day that passed was taking a toll on me, but I didn't know how to stop the bleeding. Whatever was causing the drain was winning.

If I had been alert, I might have seen the signs before that curbside meltdown and recognized them for what they were. But for some reason, I ignored them.

One of the common anesthetics that numbs us to these dark harbingers is thinking, "It could never happen to me!"

But the signs were all around me. I ignored them. Simple problems refused solution. Anything that necessitated emotional energy sent me in the other direction. My faith was bruised and fragile. My confident demeanor had turned pensive, and a soul that used to be an ocean of life was now a stagnant tide pool.(Read the complete article)
[19] The Perils of Persuasive Preaching, by Duane Litfin, Ph.D., Th.M. (Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Dallas Seminary, Dallas, Texas at the time this article was written; he is currently President of Wheaton College Illinois)

[20] Classic Sermons from Great Preachers of the Past (George Whitefield, Alexander Maclaren, John A. Broadus, T. Dewitt Talmage, Charles H. Spurgeon, B. H. Carroll, Lee Roberson, J. Wilbur Chapman, Billy Sunday, R. G. Lee)

[21] “Payday Someday” by Dr. R. G. Lee, 1886-1978

[22] Doug Whitley as Charles H. Spurgeon (from Preachers of the Past): You can hear and watch John the Beloved, Apostle Paul, C.H. Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, or D.L. Moody as played by Doug Whitley. Each character is portrayed in period costume and make-up and every presentation has a strong Gospel message and challenge to personal Christian growth. The lives of these men provide outreach to the seeker and encouragement to believers new and old.)

[23] The Rise of Extreme Tolerance, by John MacArthur (defense of preaching and critique of post modernism and the “Emergent Church”

[24] Preachers Who Don’t Believe — The Scandal of Apostate Pastors by Albert Mohler Jr, president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

[25] Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershael York
Preachers who grew up in churches in which the pastor was all flash and little substance tend to shy away from any emphasis on delivery, believing it to be man-centered, and focus on the text. On the other extreme, preachers who grew up in a lifeless orthodoxy may lean too far the other direction and substitute a great delivery and a few spiritual insights for rich biblical revelation. Many Millennials react against the revivalist sermon structure and rhetorical devices that seem trite and settle for a rambling narrative with little discernible structure at all.

So I would have to say that of text, sermon, and delivery, the most neglected today is the one that the preacher has seen overemphasized. But preachers need to master all three concepts. The preacher needs to discover biblical truth, organize it in a culturally relevant way, and deliver it in an engaging manner that reaches the mind of his listeners through their hearts.

One of my axioms is what I call the paradox of preaching: the better you are, the less they notice you. If the preacher is nervous, stammering, repetitive, jittery, wooden, frenetic, frozen, or any other distractive adjective one might imagine, the audience will hardly hear what he is saying, regardless of how true or helpful it may be.

The most common mistake I see among conservative and especially reformed preachers is the belief that if we just get the truth out there, the Holy Spirit will use it, in spite of our poor delivery.

The Millennials have a great challenge because they are far more accustomed to communicating via texts, emails, blogs, and the written word than they are orally, but preaching is oral, and that is a very different means of communicating truth than through words on a page. The biggest mistake I see is when preachers preach like writers, concentrating more on the specific words that they want to say-basically reading the sermon-than on communicating with a real audience. (Read the complete interview by Trevin Wax)
[26] The Agony of Preaching, from “Why I Love to Preach” by Joseph M. Stowell
“Preachers are human, and humans wrestle with ego. When you give birth to one sentence at a time, articulating something so intrinsically a part of your soul, there is always a certain risk. It is a blow to a pastor's ego when he walks by the most spiritual people in the church, huddled in the foyer after the morning message, only to overhear them talking about the great insights of their favorite radio preacher. Of course, preaching is not supposed to be about egos, but there is nothing like preaching to remind you that you have one.

“As someone who lives in the suburbs, I love to cut my lawn and edge my driveway with precision. There is something satisfying about standing back and thinking, 'There, that's done. I'm great with how it looks!' I never feel that kind of satisfaction with preaching. When someone asks me if I'm ready to preach, my response is always, 'Not really!' I never feel completely ready. There always seems to be a more interesting illustration, a clearer transition, a better thought about the historical and cultural context, on and on, forever and ever -- with no amen! Preaching is the ultimate in open-ended art form; it can always be improved.

“Preaching never feels like it is over and done. I can walk away from a lousy golf game and get on with my life, but I can't walk away after a poorly preached sermon and forget it. I can't tell you how many times I have preached and afterward promised God I would never embarrass Him like that again.

“Why is it that when I feel I have preached a really good sermon, it sometimes seems to go nowhere? And, when I feel I have not done so well, God often sees fit to use it in someone's life? In moments like these, I comfort myself with the reminder that God's power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). God often uses my inadequacy to keep me appropriately humble. A public display of weakness in the thing that people expect me to do well isn't very comfortable. I don't enjoy being humbled. But preaching has a way of doing that to me.” (Read the complete article)
[27] Deep Preaching: Creating Sermons that Go Beyond the Superficial, by J. Kent Edwards, Professor of Preaching and Leadership, Director, Doctor of Ministry Program, Talbot
Effective preaching must “start with your heart”—that is, the character of the preacher is the first step in developing messages that make a difference. After discussing the centrality of Scripture in what we preach, Edwards then explores at length the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching and how the spiritual disciplines relate to our role as proclaimers of God’s Word. (From review)

J. Kent Edwards recalls a story that late pastor J. Vernon McGee told about seeing children in South Africa playing a game of marbles in the dust with real diamonds. The precious stones were being handled with no regard for their true worth. Edwards fears the same thing happens today when preachers offer Scriptural truth to listeners without being completely overwhelmed by its greatness themselves in the process.

Deep Preaching is his call to “rethink” preaching. Edwards helps preachers learn to preach the word in ways that will powerfully change the lives of hearers. He contends that sermons “need not settle comfortably on the lives of the listeners like dust on a coffee table.” He encourages preachers to join him in casting off the lines that moor their ministries to the status-quo and make every effort to steer their preaching out of the “comfortable shallows.” He urges them to preach deep sermons rather than superficial ones, moving “beyond the yawn-inspiring to the awe-inspiring, from the trite to the transforming.” (Read the complete review)
[28] Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit, by Steven Smith (assistant professor of preaching, associate dean for the professional doctoral program, and James T. Draper, Jr., Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is also a member of the Evangelical Homiletical Society)
Drawing inspiration from Paul, the seminal preacher, Steven W. Smith takes a fresh look at the whys of preaching in Dying to Preach. In 2 Corinthians 4.12, Paul describes the philosophy of his ministry as “death works in us, but life in you.” Building on this Scriptural framework, Smith examines the theology of preaching through vicarious suffering, dying so that others might live. As he elaborates on the intersection of the cross and the pulpit, Smith shows why the preacher must die to self, die for others, and die in Christ so that congregations may live. (From review)
[29] The Glory of Preaching: Participating in God's Transformation of the World, by Darrell W. Johnson
Drawing from biblical and theological resources as well as years in the pulpit, Darrell Johnson takes us far beyond the mere mechanics of delivering sermons. He dynamically unpacks the link between the human task of speaking to a congregation and the real, gracious action and presence of the living Christ in and through our proclamation.

Johnson assists preachers to profoundly engage the biblical text and then liberates them to make use of their own personality, gifts and abilities as they communicate that message.

This book is for any pastor or student who wants to cultivate a deeper pulpit approach, one that participates in the transforming mystery of God working through our less-than-perfect proclamation. Here is a solid foundation for preaching the good news as if God was living, Jesus was resurrected and the Holy Spirit was faithfully at work among us. (From IVP review)
[30] Setting Words on Fire: Putting God at the Center of the Sermon, by Paul Scott Wilson (Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto)
“Preachers, he argues, often "fail to focus on God in significant ways" (Wilson, 11). They, therefore, fall far short of their torch-bearer status. Instead, as he observes, he listens to far too many sermons that are academically rigorous in their exegesis, and tell engaging stories, something is missing. That something, Wilson recognizes, is God. In those sermons he does not meet, nor is challenged by the living God. The purpose of this book is therefore clear and succinct: to help preachers find the ways to put God at the center of their sermons. In the early life of the church, Augustine urged preachers to develop sermons that teach, delight, and move. Wilson argues that we put God at the center of our preaching by developing sermons that do two things: teach and proclaim.” (from review by Lucy Lind Hogan, Ph.D. Hugh Latimer Elderdice Professor of Preaching and Worship, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D. C.)
[31] Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers, by T. David Gordon (Professor of Religion and Greek at Grove City College since 1999. Previously, he was an Associate Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for 14 years and Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashua, NH for 9 years)
“I’ve really desired something fairly simple for my family: to be able to talk intelligently about the sermon on Sunday afternoon or throughout the week. And to do this, all I really desire is the ability to answer three questions: What was the point or thrust of the sermon? Was this point adequately established in the text that was read? Were the applications legitimate applications of the point, from which we can have further fruitful conversation about other possible applications? Frequently, indeed more commonly than not, I have heard sermons about which my family cannot even answer the first question. And even when we can, it is very rare to find the point adequately established from the passage. Further, the applications suggested almost never have anything to do with the text.” (from sample chapter)

“Good preaching is seldom found in the modern church, for modern preachers are the products of a media culture that militates against the foundations of good preaching. Gordon’s expertise makes him the right person to pen this work; he has been a church-planting pastor, a seminary and college professor, is a trained theologian (with expertise in New Testament) and teaches courses in a fairly new academic discipline, ‘Media Ecology.’ This combination produces a well-crafted and reasoned result.

According to the author’s analysis, our culture has largely lost the skills required for excellent preaching. As a result churches are poorly fed, or are abandoning the centrality of preaching for the sake of other (often multi-media) presentations more suited to their ministers’ abilities. Sadly, most seem to be content with the situation. A divinely appointed means is being lost, so that in very real terms, the media shapes the messengers, the message, and the reception.

Dr. Gordon makes some really outstanding observations. For example, he reminds us in the clearest of terms, of the centrality of Christ in Christian proclamation. Too many sermons are moralistic. People want to know, and preachers give them answers to the question “what should I do?”, while the Gospel points us away from ourselves to what God has done in Christ! This is the great problem of application. Duty may only properly be placed in the context of God’s prior activity; Too frequently, preaching degenerates into a Pelagian form of sanctification.” (From review by The Instituted of Reformed Baptist Studies)
[32] Preaching: Act of Spirituality or Arrogance? by William D. Lawrence, ThD, President of Leader Formation International (LFI) as well as Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary
The act of preaching is either a spiritual act or an arrogant act. There is nothing in between for anyone who stands in the pulpit.

The act of preaching can be a spiritual act empowered by the Holy Spirit, done through a man taught by the Spirit who has pondered God’s word until it has gripped him in such a way that he must speak for God's glory because the living Truth has become a raging fire in his bones.

Or the act of preaching can be an arrogant act empowered by the flesh, done by a man who has pandered God's word until his cleverness has gripped him in such a way that he speaks for his own glory because there are only the charred ashes of death in his bones.
[33] “Pastors: Make Time for Those You Love” by John K. Hutcheson, Sr., from Today’s Christian Preacher Magazine
In the divine scheme of relationships, the God of Heaven intended for the pastor’s first ministry to be his family, not the church. The pastor is a family man, as evidenced by the qualifications laid out in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. His family either qualifies or disqualifies him from his calling to be one who models Truth to the Lord’s people. If being a pastor involved no more than telling people what to do, any gifted orator or expositor could handle that. However, the Lord of the Church expects pastors to “flesh out” the Truth in their family lives by being human analogues of Himself, the loving, nurturing Bridegroom.

How does a pastor make time for those whom he loves? The first crucial area of time should be for the pastor’s wife. As a special gift from the Lord, she is his partner in love, in parenting, and in ministry.

As simple a matter as taking time to go for a walk with his wife can provide a pastor’s wife with the awareness that she is important to her husband amidst his pastoral duties.
[34] “So, You’re Preaching This Sunday...” by Ray Pritchard, president of Keep Believing Ministries and author of “And When You Pray
Let’s suppose you’re a pastor and you’re preaching this Sunday. That’s six days away. To the man or woman in the pew, that seems like a long time, but it’s not. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Preacher’s Calendar. It goes like this...


That’s the way it feels to those who preach every week. You routinely come to Saturday wondering what happened to the last five days. And where is that sermon you have to preach tomorrow morning? Speaking as one who spent 27 years getting ready to preach every Sunday, I know that feeling of utter end-of-the-week desperation, and I’ve done my share of late-Saturday night sermonizing.
[35] “Your Pastor’s Pain: Whose Fault Is It?” by Dr. Chuck Betters, Senior Pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear, Delaware since 1986
I’ve been a pastor for almost forty years and people leaving the church always hurts.

Don’t get me wrong. I often tell our congregation and audiences that every pastor should have the privilege of shepherding a congregation like ours. Many of us have “grown up” together in our life journeys and share a love affair with Christ and each other. Our church is stronger than it’s ever been and there is a passion for building God’s kingdom. But no matter how many times I am told the leaving is “nothing personal,” I cannot help but wonder what I did to drive people away, especially people I considered friends.

I’m not alone in this sadness. Numerous pastors and key church leaders tell me they experience the same sorrow. In one particularly low moment, my wife concluded that many people view pastors and their wives as commodities, embraced and loved only as long as personal needs are met. What we define as friendship for us is actually a casual relationship for them, easily discarded when the parishioner is disappointed when their perceived needs are not met by us.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we pastors are without fault. Some pastors are foolish and arrogant. Some refuse accountability and lead with an iron fist. Some betray their very office by sinful behavior. But many laymen slice and dice their preacher because of personal preferences – not because of sin on the part of their spiritual leader. (Please read the related article “Ten Bad Reasons for Leaving Your Church” also by Dr. Betters)
[36] “Preaching Christ” series by Dr. David P. Murray, Stornoway Free Church of Scotland

[37] Preaching Clinic for Elders, by Dr. Dennis Prutow, Biblical Preaching Institute

#1 - A Definition of Preaching (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

#2 - The Point of the Text (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

#3 - The Point of the Sermon (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

#4 Developing Your Outline (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

#5 Dealing With the Details (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

#6 Conclusions & Introductions (mp3 play or download; pdf view or download)

[38] Homiletics: The Art of Preaching and Teaching, by Ptr. Vincent Sawyer, Faith Baptist Church

Homiletics Course Lesson 1 - The Aim Of Preaching (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 2 - Study Before You Preach (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 3 - Basic Rules Of Hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation) (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 4 - Pulling Principles Out Of The Text (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 5 - Determining The Main Principle (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 6 - Forming Your Proposition (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 7 - The Main Points Of Your Outline (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 8 - The Minor Points Of Your Outline (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 9 - Adding ‘Meat’ to Your Message (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 10 - Preparing Your Introduction, Conclusion, & Title (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 11 - Outlining A Passage. Expository Textual & Topical Types (download mp3)

Homiletics Course Lesson 12 - Tips For Effective Message Delivery (download mp3)

[39] Preaching Someone Else’s Sermons: The Problem of Plagiarism in the Pulpit, by George R. Cannon, Jr. (Pastor of Curwensville Christian Church in Curwensville, Pennsylvania)
Sermon-writing services are everywhere. For a small fee each month, pastors can have access to literally hundreds of sermons on any given topic or passage on the Internet. If you are not willing to pay, simply visit any one of thousands of church websites and download this past week’s sermon from another pastor. Pastors conferences also provide endless resources. It seems that the once forbidden fruit of preaching ministry has now become a fashionable staple in time management for the modern pastor.

At one pastors conference I attended, the issue of preaching someone else’s sermon came to the forefront. One speaker openly stated that “he would preach better sermons, when someone wrote better sermons.” At this same conference, another speaker gave an inspiring message that seemed to stir all in attendance. However, the problem was that I heard the very same message on Christian radio several months before by another well-known speaker.

The availability of these resources (Preaching Plagiarism) poses several questions that must be answered by those who minister in word to God’s people. “Is it right to use someone else’s sermon and pass it off as your own?” “Is it fair to the congregation?” (Read the complete article)
[40] Expository Preaching, by Dr. Robert C. Stone, Senior Pastor, Hillcrest Chapel, Bellingham Virginia

Session One: The Introduction to Expository Preaching (download pdf)
What are the ingredients of expository preaching? What is a definition of expository preaching? What are its advantages, goals, difficulties? What expository preaching is not. Practical suggestions.

Session Two: The Preparation and Process of Expository Messages (download pdf)
The main focus will be the 15-step process of preparing an expository message that is true to the text, and leads to specific steps of application. This session will include a discussion of the tools needed, and necessary commitments to expository preaching. Some practical ideas on how to develop a balanced preaching schedule, and how to evaluate whether we are preaching too often.

Session Four: The Principles of Interpretation (download pdf)
To conduct proper exegesis of a passage, we have to get in touch with some basic rules of interpretation. We are certainly not saying only scholars can understand the Bible; we should continue to emphasize what the 16th-century reformers affirmed (they called it perspicuity)—the way of salvation plainly set forth so that the simplest believer may read and understand it for himself. Yet the Word of God is rich in revelation too. Therefore, if we are to enter more deeply into God's Word, we must understand some basic rules. The history of the church also confirms the need for such a code to guide our interpretation.

Session Five: A Potpourri of Expository Questions and Tests
How can I do topical studies accurately? How do we respond to finicky spiritual tastes? Should we teach others to evaluate our and others' messages biblically? How long into the future should I plan my preaching?

Sessions Six to Nine: The Process of God’s Communication to Man

Part One: The Process Revealed; Inspiration (download pdf)
Part Two: Transmission, Translation (download pdf; second part of Part One pdf)
Part Three: Illumination, Interpretation (download pdf)
Part Four: Application (download pdf; second part of Part Three pdf)

[41] Resources from
[42] Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson (pastor, Richmond Baptist Church, BC; professor, Northwest Baptist Theological College in Vancouver and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
“This study is important because exegetical fallacies are painfully frequent among us- among us whose God-given grace and responsibility is the faithful proclamation of the Word of God. Make a mistake in the interpretation of one of Shakespeare's plays, falsely scan a piece of Spenserian verse, and there is unlikely to be an entailment of eternal consequence; but we cannot lightly accept a similar laxity in the interpretation of Scripture. We are dealing with God’s thoughts: we are obligated to take the greatest pains to understand them truly and to explain them clearly. It is all the more shocking, therefore, to find in the evangelical pulpit, where the Scriptures are officially revered, frequent and inexcusable sloppiness in handling them. All of us, of course, will make some exegetical mistakes: I am painfully aware of some of my own, brought to my attention by increasing years, wider reading, and alert colleagues who love me enough to correct me. But tragic is the situation when the preacher or teacher is perpetually unaware of the blatant nonsense he utters, and of the consequent damage he inflicts on the church of God. Nor will it do to be satisfied with pointing a finger at other groups whose skills are less than our own: we must begin by cleaning up our own backyard.” (from book introduction)

Examples of word study fallacies:
  • Root Fallacy - the etymology or the root of the word does not always determine the meaning of a word.
  • Semantic Anachronism - this occurs when a late use of a word is read back into earlier literature.
  • Semantic Obsolescence - this is when the word in the text is assigned a meaning that was used in the past but had ceased to be used when the text was written.
  • Appeal to Unknown or Unlikely Meanings
  • Careless Appeal to Background Material
  • Verbal Parallelomania
  • Linkage of Language and Mentality
  • False Assumptions About Technical Meaning
  • Problems Surrounding Synonyms and Componential Analysis
  • Selective and Prejudicial Use of Evidence
  • Unwarranted Semantic Disjunctions and Restrictions
  • Unwarranted Restriction of the Semantic Field
  • Unwarranted Adoption of an Expanded Semantic Field
  • Problems Relating to the Semitic Background of the Greek New Testament
  • Unwarranted Neglect of Distinguishing Peculiarities of a Corpus
  • Unwarranted Linking of Sense and Reference
[43] Materials by Russell Moore (Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, Kentucky)
The Devil Is a Boring Preacher: The High Stakes of Dull Sermons

A sermonic information dump—with PowerPoint outline point by sub-point by sub-sub-point can “safely” distance your people from Christ. A sermon that simply collates and regurgitates what you’ve read in commentaries can make the Word of God a matter of cognition not submission. A strung-together list of life tips can make it easy for your people to disregard this word just like they disregard the weight loss plans commercials on television or the flossing ad campaigns they see from the dentist’s chair.

Beyond a Veggie Tales Gospel: Why We Must Preach Christ from Every Text

As we teach and preach and disciple and evangelize, let’s preach the whole Bible–every verse. And in every verse, let’s show how God keeps His promises, in Christ. Let’s not simply teach our people how to be moral, or how to be well-tempered, or how to be authentic or how to put the erotic energy back into their marriages. Let’s teach them how to find themselves in Christ, to conform to His life, and to follow His steps through His Spirit, looking always to His cross and His resurrection and His glory. Let’s put aside the cartoons–whether in our children’s programs or in our Sunday morning sermons–and proclaim Christ.

Ketchup and pickle juice is one thing. But we have more than a Veggie Tales Gospel. We have a gospel about bones and blood and mangled flesh. We have a Gospel of nail scarred hands and a table of bread and wine. We have a Gospel that propels us to suffer and even to die, because we have seen how God has kept His promise to the pioneer of our salvation, our firstborn Brother, our Lord Jesus.
[44] Materials by Sherman Haywood Cox II
A Basic Sermon Model – Three Points and a Poem (available in audio)

One of the most persistent models of preaching has been termed "Three points and a Poem." What it means is that the preacher makes three points and then ends with a poem. Some preachers have termed the same sermon method as "Three points and a celebration."

Three Points and a Poem – Revisited

There are many who think that the three points and a poem deserve to fall off the landscape of possible sermonic choices. They see it as an artifact of a bygone era that much like the horse and buggy needs to be set aside for more "effective" modes of presentation.

Some preachers would promote the dialectic method. Others would promote a narrative form. Still others think that we should not go to the scripture with a set form in mind and should let the text guide the sermonic structural choice.

Four Disjointed Points is not a Sermon

Audio #14 – Telling the Story – Preaching with Stories

Sermons that Make Points

Audio 29 – The Easy Sermon Resolution
[45] Twelve rules for preachers by John Wesley (1703-1791), from John Telford’s The Life of John Wesley (Hodder & Stoughton, 1886), Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University
1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time, nor spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2. Be serious. Let your motto be, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women.

4. Take no step towards marriage without solemn prayer to God and consulting with your brethren.

5. Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6. Speak evil of no one, else your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker; keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

7. Tell every one what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8. Do not affect the gentleman. A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of all.

9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of cleaning your own shoes when necessary.

10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them, and that for conscience’ sake.

11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most.

12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel, and in union with your brethren. As such, it is your part to employ your time as our rules direct: partly in preaching and visiting from i house to house, partly in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful you should do that part of the work which the Conference shall advise, at those times and places which they shall judge most for His glory.

“Observe, it is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care merely of this or that Society, but to save as many souls as you can, to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and, with all• your power, to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And, remember, a Methodist preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline. Therefore you will need all the grace and sense you have, and to have all your wits about you.”
[46] The hunger for power, from “Basic Christian Leadership” by John Stott
This concentration on power makes an immediate appeal to us today, for we live in a society that worships power. Not that this is new. The lust for power has always been a characteristic of the human story, at least since Adam and Eve were offered power in exchange for disobedience...

We see the same power-hunger in the church: in top-level ecclesiastical power struggles, in denominational disputes, in some local churches driven by market forces and others in which the clergy hold all the reins of power and refuse to share it with the lay people (especially the young people), in parachurch organizations that dream of expanding into world empires and even in the pulpit, which is an exceedingly dangerous place for any child of Adam to occupy...

I confess to being frightened by the contemporary evangelical hunger for power, even the quest for the power of the Holy Spirit. Why do we want to receive power? Is it honestly power for witness (as in Acts 1:8) or holiness or humble service? Or is it in reality a mask for personal ambition, a craving to boost our own egos, to minister to our self-importance, to impress, to dominate or to manipulate?
Notes: (1) This ministry does not necessarily endorse or share all the views and opinions expressed in the materials, resources or links mentioned in these posts. Please always refer to the Articles of Faith and Biblical distinctives of Baptists when you study these materials. (2) This lesson is part of the projected 300 plus lessons. From time to time, the lessons will be updated, revised, combined, formatted, and edited to comply with the VOA Simplified English word list. Later on, these lessons will be categorized, numbered sequentially, and made available as PDF downloads.

No comments: