A Couple Things I Have Learned About Preaching
Recently, as I was reading a book on the subject of preaching. While reading, I asked myself if I could synthesize the most critical truths about preaching that I have learned through years of reading, observing about preaching myself. In the cover of the book I was reading, I quickly wrote down what I believe to be the most critical aspects of preaching. Thought this list is clearly not exhaustive, I felt these concepts to be the most foundational.
- Every sermon should be about one idea and that one idea should be the one, main idea of the text. The point of the passage should be the point of the sermon. We must ask ourself “What was the original author communication to the original audience? How do we need that same message today?” As Charles Simeon wrote “My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less that I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding.”
- Aristotle was right when he said that in order to persuade, the messenger must possess ethos, pathos and logos.
- Ethos-Are you a person that is living what you are preaching? Can I trust you?
- Pathos-Are you passionate about what you are presenting?
- Logos-Is your message logical?
- Check your motives. People can tell when you genuinely love God, the scriptures, and the people to whom you are preaching. As the cliché goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is hard for a sermon to be about Jesus if everything is about the preacher.
- Someone pays the price for the sermon. It is the preacher through prayer, preparation, and planning—or it is the congregation through wasted time. Sermons are 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.
- Great preachers don’t try to preach great sermons. Rather, they try to preach helpful sermons–and then once in a while, one of those sermon will be great.
- A preacher always preaches to himself first. A bible passage or message that has not little in the life of the preacher will not do anything in the life of the listeners.
- There is no substitute for consistent preparation. Alistair Begg is know for encouraging students to:
- Write yourself empty,
- Read yourself full.
- Write yourself clear.
- Pray yourself hot.
- Know who your role and your ally. We have an ally in the Holy Spirit. It is the responsibility of the pastor to pray, prepare and preach. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convict, convert and correct people.
- Proclaim the message of the Bible with clarity and conviction. Spurgeon wrote that we just need to proclaim, not defend the Bible. “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself. … as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.”
- Every sermon must be about Jesus. A message that is not about Jesus is just talk. Every passage of scripture is somehow about the work, need, character, coming or glory of Jesus. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “…from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London…And so from every text of Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ…I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get to my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savior of Christ in it.”