- Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
- In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
- How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
- Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallize it?
- What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
- What notes, if any, do you use?
- What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
- How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (e.g., pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)?
- What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
- What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
As I ponder this matter of delivering a message, which I have done since 1963, what has changed about the way I deliver and prepare a message.
In those early years, as a teen, I learn by viewing my Dad and the men who came and preached for Dad, and the many preachers who I heard preach when Dad went to Fellowship meetings. I never had a lesson specific on how to preach or even to deliver a sermon.
My view of preaching was skewered, that is I had no clue. Preaching was not viewed as an academic exercise. This was the feeling I had anyway about preaching.
Getting a sermon on your own was the way to go in those days. Of course Dad had a great library of sermons. Also Dad had received a lot of church papers, and the Sword of the Lord listed some great preachers of the past and current preachers which I looked read.
But most of all I would, even in those teen years, take a chapter and see if I could understand the meaning of the chapter. Dad had the John R. Rice, Oliver B Greene commentaries and H.A. Ironside commentaries, which I believed were good. Dad had the American Commentaries set as well, which I still use today. And they were all good.
My first series of study was Galatians, I still have the material that I wrote down in 1965. But as for someone telling me how to deliver a message or even study for a message, that was by viewing others method.
My strength was in teaching. That I could do. Revelation and Psalms were the first two books I taught in 1963-1966 (27 months as teacher of the Teens/Young Adults in the Roanoke Baptist Temple, Roanoke Virginia). I still have those notes by the way. Spurgeon was great on the Psalms.
The idea was not to come up with my own interpretation of the verses, at 16 I didn't have any training in that area. So I learned early to study from those who did have an idea what the passages was saying. I didn't want to give my opinion on the text that I didn't have any idea what the text was saying. That happens a lot I found out later.
So preaching for me was more about teaching what the Bible was saying, within the context of the passage rather than coming up with an idea and then talking about it. Which seemed to be the trend of preaching.
You to need to understand the field of preachers around me in those days, were fundamental independent baptist, not reformed, covenant pres preachers. Who were those men anyway. John Calvin and Martin Luther? If there were not IFB they were not to be trusted or read.
I have said in other articles, seminary was not the place to learn to preach. Most all the teachers were good preachers, nevertheless they did not teach preaching skills. They did teach the Scriptures, but they did not teach the skills necessary to gain understanding of the scripture. The techniques I guest was to be caught rather than to be learned or taught.
John Wesley was sarcastically dubbed a “methodist” when he began to promote an organized approach to the communication of the Gospel. His commitment to method implies that there is a disorganized way to communicate the truth as well as an organized way. Wesley’s success, demonstrated by his place in history, is a strong argument for the latter.
To study the scripture in a manner of learning was considered by many as "nonspiritual." That is you do not need to study, God and the Holy Spirit will give you understanding. Even the method of learning to "teach" or "preach" was not taught, it was more caught.
What we considered good teaching, and good preaching was by the sound rather than the content. And the content was at times more important than the actual understanding the text.
Even today in many of the IBC circles this method holds true, "you are on your own." Or you are trained by those who hold to this method.
There is a method and an organized way to teach the Word of God, and a method whereby you learn the meaning of the Word of God.
Next time. Stay tune.....