Archive for the ‘10 Questions Interviews’ Category

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10 Questions for Expositors – Matt Chandler (pt 2)

March 17, 2011

Matt Chandler answers the last five questions about his preaching. By the way, to listen to some of Matt’s preaching, here is the page of his sermons.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?

My notes are a bit of a hybrid manuscript/outline.  I try not to look at them while I am preaching so I study those notes and pray a ton before I step out on stage.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?

The greatest peril for a preacher is wanting the acceptance and approval of his listeners.  This is a serious thing that we have been called to and we will regularly have to say things that our culture thinks is foolish and the religious find offensive.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)

It’s important for me to do both so I set aside blocks of time each week for both.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are study days for me.  I put together sermons and pray and study on those two days.  The rest of the week I am meeting with people and trying to shepherd well the people God has asked me to lead.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?

John Stott’s book “Between Two Worlds and John Piper’s “The Supremacy of God in Preaching” are two of my favorite books on preaching.  I more recently read Tony Merida’s book “Faithful Preaching” and thought it was excellent.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?

The main two ways we nurture and encourage is reps and feedback.  We want to create different venues for our young men to preach and then we want to give them honest and straight feedback about how they handled the text, how they engaged the crowd, whether they communicated clearly etc.

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10 Questions For Expositors – Matt Chandler (pt 1)

March 16, 2011

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas.  His church has over 5000 members, and Matt’s main role is bringing the Word of God to them. Enjoy his first batch of answers to our 10 questions.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?

The Spirit of God moving through the preaching of the Word is the driving force at The Village.  Our groups rally around it, our missions flow out of it and our community is built on it.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?

It was quite by accident.  I began by the invitation of a friend to teach a Sunday School class my freshman year of college.  God did some tremendous things in that class and it led to other opportunities to teach.  I had a bad experience at a small church before I arrived in Abilene and didn’t think I was going to end up in the church.  God continued to grow my influence as a teacher/preacher and about a year later I was preaching in front of about 1000 college students every Thursday night.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

On average 6-10 hours.  It used to take me much longer but the more I have studied and preached the quicker it has started to come.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?

I think it’s extremely important to tap into a major theme or point so that your hearers walk away knowing what the Word said about whatever the theme or point was.  I know this will sound like an oversimplification but I want to let the text crystallise it.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?

This is a hard question because I think everything from context to content plays into the answer.  I think a preacher needs to be himself.  To learn from other preachers but not when all is said and done to emulate them.  In a day where you can listen to anyone and watch anyone by simply clicking a button on you phone or computer I think it’s important to find your own voice so the kingdom doesn’t get a carbon copy of someone else.

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10 Questions For Expositors – Josh Moody

June 7, 2010

This interview with Josh Moody is now on the new Unashamed Workman blog.

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10 Questions For Expositors – Steven Lawson

June 3, 2010

Some pastors lecture. Other pastors preach.  I can safely say that Steven Lawson falls into the latter category.

 

Faithfully preaching Scripture throughout 29 years of pastoral ministry, Dr Lawson possesses that rare combination of ‘light’ and ‘heat’ in his expository style. Its an immense pleasure to put our 10 Questions for Expositors to Steven Lawson today.

1.  Pastor Lawson, where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?

I would place the preaching of the Word of God at the very center of the life of the church. It is biblical preaching that sets in motion and leads to everything that is good in the church—transcendent worship, godly living, loving fellowship, energetic service, and Christ-centered evangelism. We cannot worship God until we know who He is and what He has done for us. Expository preaching enhances such worship. We cannot live holy lives until our sins are exposed and the path of godliness is made known to us. Again, it is biblical preaching that leads to this. There is no true fellowship in Christ at a meaningful level apart from biblical preaching. Neither can we serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit, nor carryout authentic evangelism, without being challenged by the truth in preaching.

A study of the life of Christ and the early church shows this to be true. Jesus Christ Himself launched His public ministry by preaching (Mk. 1:15-16). The first activity of the church in the book of Acts was preaching (Acts 2:14-40). One fourth of the book of Acts is the record of either a sermon or a defense of Christ. The early church was marked by powerful gospel preaching. No church will rise any higher than its pulpit. Strong churches are the result of strong preaching.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?

I discovered my gift in preaching in several ways. One, God gave me an overwhelming desire to proclaim His Word. The more I preached, the more I wanted to preach. God put such a strong desire in my heart (1 Timothy 3:1). Two, as I preached, I began to see people come to faith in Christ and believers were being encouraged in their faith. People began to give me positive feedback to my preaching, which was a needed confirmation. Three, I was providentially thrown into preaching. In circumstances beyond my control and through events that I would have never pursued, I suddenly found myself thrust into the arena of preaching. I could only assume that the invisible hand of God was moving me in this direction. Four, I had positive examples of biblical preaching placed before me. The more I heard true preaching, the more there was a fire ignited in my bones to do it.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

The real answer on how it takes to prepare a sermon is all my life. In reality, the preparation of a sermon pulls forward all the years of one’s personal study of Scripture, as well as all one’s life experiences, including trials. God must make the preacher before the preacher can make the sermon. More specifically, it once took me about twenty to twenty-five hours to prepare an expository sermon. I can now do it in less than half that time, depending upon the ease or difficulty of the text and the occasion in which I am speaking.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?

It is certainly critical that a sermon contain one dominant idea. If you try to say twelve things, you will say nothing. But if you try to say one thing, you will say it well. There should be a straight-line of thought that runs throughout the entirety of the sermon, from the introduction to the conclusion. The preacher cannot be like the man who jumped onto his horse and rode out in every direction. He cannot head in every direction when he stands to preach. Rather he must have a clearly-marked path before him and stay on track, not veering to the right or to the left. Finding the central thrust of a text is a matter of capturing the thunder of that passage. It is finding what is dominant and what is driving the main thrust of the passage.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?

The most important aspect of a preacher’s style is clarity. If he is not crystal-clear in what he is saying, it matters not how passionate he is or how compelling he presents his material. In other words, he must be insightful and speak in a manner in which he is understood. There is an old saying, “Just because a river is muddy does not mean it is deep.” Too often, people assume that a preacher, who is hard to understand, or who speaks over their heads, must be brilliant. The fact is, any speaker can be hard to understand with very little effort. The preacher who has truly mastered his subject is able to communicate it in such a way that others grasp what he is saying. Therefore, the preacher must be coherent and logical, then be fervent and passionate. We must not be like one preacher who wrote in the margin of his bible, “Weak point—yell here.” He must be clearly understood by the common man.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?

I carry a full-written manuscript into the pulpit, although I do not read from it verbatim. I stay fairly attached to it in the introduction, as I do not want to ramble as I come out of the starting blocks. I have written out my homiletical headings, transitions, explanation of the text, word studies, historical background, cross-references, geographical background, authorial intent, building argument of the book, implications of the text, application for the listener, and illustrations. I write the entire manuscript in full sentence form. However, I try to use these notes as little as possible. For the conclusion, I am usually in the overflow of the moment and in such a preaching mode that I am not using my notes.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?

The greatest perils that preachers must avoid: one, pride; two, lack of study; three, prayerlessness; four, withholding the full counsel of God; five, fear of man; six, lack of living the message; seven, a failure to “own” the manuscript; eight, being negative, rather than positive; nine, manipulating people; ten, a lack of compassion.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (e.g. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)?

There is no simple answer to this question. The temperament and personality of each pastor is different. The passions and strengths of each man differ. The pastoring demands of each church vary. The needs and age of each congregation differ as well. Each pastor is helped by different kinds of men around him. Each pastor must balance these competing demands, depending upon how he is wired by God and where he serves.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?

The best books on preaching are those books which contain great sermons from great preachers. I have learned how to preach, primarily, not by reading books on how to preach, but by reading the sermons of powerful preachers like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John MacArthur. Great preaching is more caught than it is taught. Most who teach preaching are not the best preachers. And most of the great preachers are not writing books on how to preach. There are, of course, exceptions. The best book on preaching that I have ever read is Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, himself a prince of preachers.

10.  Finally Steven, what steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?

In order to nurture future preachers, I do several things. One, I host an annual conference on expository preaching called the Expositors’ Conference (www.expositorsconference.org). In this conference, I invite a noted expositor to join with me in preaching on the distinctives of expository preaching, as well as modeling it. Two, I preach in numerous pastors’ conferences and bible conferences around America and in other parts of the world. These venues allow me to excite and encourage young preachers and model for them biblical preaching. Three, I have written several books and articles on expository preaching, which have been used by the Lord with positive effect upon future preachers. Four, I maintain correspondence with young preachers who write and seek guidance. Five, my sermons are posted on the webpage and become an example, of sorts, for young pastors. Six, I visit with pastors at conferences before and after I speak. Seven, I teach expository preaching in the Doctor of Ministry programs at various seminaries, such as Ligonier Academy in Orlando, Florida and The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California. Eight, I teach the Expositor’s Institute with John  MacArthur in which we work with fifteen to twenty men in a small group setting regarding biblical preaching.

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10 Questions For Expositors – Liam Garvie

May 24, 2010

God is raising up a growing band of young, faithful preachers in Scotland. One of them is Liam Garvie, pastor of St Andrew’s Baptist Church. I’ve often been edified by his sermons, and I appreciate his responses to our 10 Questions for Expositors.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?

Based on the understanding that the proclamation of the word of God is the ordained means by which God gathers his church and grants unbelievers life (Ezek 37; 1 Pet 1:23), and the means by which He grows his church and grants believers sanctification, I believe preaching, and expository preaching at that, should be considered by pastor and flock alike, absolutely central in the grand scheme of church life. God has spoken, and we should be a listening people.  What better way to exhort all to magnify Christ crucified and be conformed to his image and likeness than by preaching the Scriptures that testify about Him (Luke 24:27)? 

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?

In short, through the affirmation of my local church in Dundee.  Not long after my conversion at the age of 19 I had a great appetite for God’s word and I became aware of a compelling desire to proclaim everything I was learning.  Having had opportunities to lead Bible studies for 18-25 year olds and given talks at our church youth group, I spoke to our senior pastor who explored my desire to preach, took me under his wing and gave me opportunities to preach in church.  Despite preaching some shockingly bad sermons, the church in Dundee were very gracious and encouraging and spurred me on towards full0time gospel ministry.  Ultimately the local church confirmed what i believed my compulsion to preach indicated… that I must preach.  It’s like what Spurgeon said in his autobiography, “A man who has really within him the inspiration of the Holy Ghost calling him to preach, cannot help it – he must preach. As fire within his bones, so will that influence be, until it blazes forth. Friends may check him, foes criticize him, despisers sneer at him, the man is indomitable; he must preach if he has the call of heaven.”

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

I usually give all of Thursday and Friday to sermon prep  – so on average about 16-20 hours per week.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?

I personally find it helpful in both sermon introduction and sermon conclusion to provide a clear one sentence statement summarising what the text is saying.  I would also add that I think it’s essential that each of the main points that make up the body of the sermon should a) be derived from the text with respect to the breakdown of whatever passage is being handled (not derived in order to fit a preferred outline), and b) serve to reinforce that clear statement that ‘bookends’ the sermon.  As for crystallising the key message of the text, I do that by reading, re-reading, and re-reading the text, taking notes, checking the context to see if there’s anything which negates any conclusions I come to.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?

Two things:  1) He must be himself – that goes without saying.  2) He must be passionate – A preacher who is noticeably impacted by the text he’s preaching from will be listened to.  Even is those hearing don’t necessarily believe everything he says, they will hear! 

6. What notes, if any, do you use?

For 4 years I have used a full manuscript but over the past year I have moved to using detailed notes/outline.  But I am considering reducing my notes further after preaching with a bare-bones outline recently – not by choice I might add (I copied over my morning sermon with my evening sermon and only realised that 20 minutes before leaving the house for church).  I might add, for me, preaching with full script or outline does not reduce the amount of time in careful excavation of a text and in careful consideration of application.  I know I would have been flailing a couple of weeks ago if it hadn’t been for three things, a) the grace of God, b) preaching expositionally through a book of the Bible (greatly increasing my ability to understand the text) and c) devoting myself to the rigorous wrestling of the text in the study. 

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?

The big one for me is this: Failing to preach Christ from every text.  If Christ is not preached, the Gospel is not preached; and if the Gospel is not preached you not only miss the mark when you preach, you miss the target altogether!  “The Scriptures testify about me”, Jesus says (Luke 24:27), and our preaching must not only reveal that we have bore that in mind in our preparation, but that we have made it the central question that infiltrates and informs every thought and every word and every teaching. 

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)

Admittedly, this is still something I’m working on, but by seeking to reserve Thursday and Friday for sermon prep, I try to fit meetings and pastoral appointments in to Tuesdays and Wednesdays).  I’m really keen to find ways of concentrating my time on discipling relationships and sharing life with the members of our local church.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?                                                         

Re: Exemplars of preaching that have influenced me?  Without a doubt, Mark Dever for his expository faithfulness.  I have learned so much from him and particularly from hearing him preach larger texts (covering chapters and even books).  John Piper, for his passion.  My old pastor Jim Clarke, for all the times when he would walk out from behind the pulpit and stand, as it were, face-to-face with his flock spurring them on to Christ.  And my best friend Charles Haddon Spurgeon whose sermons were so saturated with grace that I cannot read one without being freshly amazed.

Re: books on preaching that have influenced me?  Between Two Worlds by John Stott;  The Supremacy of Christ in Preaching by John Piper; Preaching with Passion by Alex Montoya, Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Joners; Heralds of God by James S. Stewart; Preaching that Changes Lives by Michael Fabarez, Feed My Sheep edited by Don Kistler; Christ-Centred Preaching by Bryan Chapell; Kindled Fire (methods of Spurgeon) by Zack Eswine.

10.What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?

Three things:  a) I set aside the evening service to make opportunities for discovering or developing preachers (as well as giving other gifted preachers in the church the opportunity to preach).  b) I invite those who are just starting out to lead every part of a service apart from the sermon just to give them the experience of putting a service together and standing up front.  c) This summer we’re giving a young guy the opportunity to work for us for 5-6 weeks, giving him the experience of preaching a 5-6 week series through a book of the Bible and he’ll be getting some feedback and encouragement from that.

 

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10 Questions For Expositors – Melvin Tinker

May 19, 2010

Melvin Tinker has been the Vicar of St John’s Newland in Hull since 1994. Many will know of Melvin through his writing, but Melvin’s rigorous, insightful preaching has also blessed many of us in the U.K.  Here are Melvin’s answers to the 10 Questions.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life? Very high!

2. How did you discover your gifts in preaching? As a young Christian at university I found myself being involved in giving evangelistic talks. This underscored both my desire to preach and God’s gifting in preaching.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon? In some ways I am getting quicker- (pleased to say)- on average- around 9-12 hours.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it? I don’t think so- one has to go with the text and this includes the genre. To speak of ideas or themes can be restrictive and impose on the text. Some texts will have a dominant theme, some won’t and have a variety of themes interacting. The key to me is not ‘what is the theme’ but what is God saying and doing through the text. ( See Tim Ward’s excellent book- Words of Life)

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid? The preacher must be true to himself and not try to imitate other. I think it was Lloyd Jones who spoke about God speaking through personality. This is quite liberating. Although there are things we can learn from others – including matters of style – we have to make sure that the ‘jacket’ we wear fits us and we are comfortable in it. It is important to link passion with proclamation, heat and light, head and heart, so God uses the whole person to engage the whole person.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?  I use a full script.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?  To take himself too seriously as if all depends upon him. To be a crowd pleaser- not necessarily becoming liberal to be liked -but in some cases adopting a ‘sound’ theological position/ style  to be approved of by the evangelical guild. To preach to others and not to himself and so opening up a credibility gap between what he says and how he lives.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities).  We have to know ourselves and own situations well and work things out accordingly. I am more alert in the mornings and so those are secured for sermon preparation and guarded quite closely – but we still must be flexible and open to needs and trust God’s providence. Contact with people is crucial so we don’t become bookish and theoretical preachers- pastoral visiting does enrich preaching and earths it- as well as enriching the preacher/pastor. It shouldn’t be a matter of fighting for preparation, it should be a given priority and other things arranged accordingly. However, we must be avoid perfectionism as any sermon can be improved and if one is not careful you come to the point of diminishing returns when too much time is spent on a sermon. Allocate time, do it and leave it and so one can get on with other things.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?  Books: Preaching and Preachers– Lloyd- Jones, I Believe In Preaching [Between Two Worlds]- Stott, The Supremacy of God in Preaching– Piper. They are all exemplars too.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?  Give young men opportunities to preach, help with critical feedback and set a good example.

Melvin Tinker’s weekly sermons can be downloaded here.

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10 Questions For Expositors – Ray Orlund Jr

January 28, 2009

This is a real treat today. Ray Ortlund Jr kindly answers a series of questions about his preaching!

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By way of introducing Ray Ortlund Jr, much could be said:

Today, Ray responds to our Ten Questions for Expositors:

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?

Preaching is central in the life of a church, because Jesus himself speaks savingly through the preached Word. The Second Helvetic Confession of 1566 was bold enough to say, “When this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is preached and received by the faithful.” Romans 10:14 (ESV margin: “. . . believe him whom they have never heard”) validates that conviction.

Another verse that means a lot to me is 1 Corinthians 14:8, “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” I have never seen a church rise in spiritual power where the preaching was unclear, indistinct, overly cautious, timid. Every church I know of that is making a gospel impact has an unmistakably clear and winsomely courageous preaching ministry.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?

How does one discover gifts in any area? It just appears, as experience allows and in the fullness of God’s time. My own preaching started with complete ineptitude, graduated over time to struggle, and by now has advanced to varying degrees of effectiveness and ineffectiveness. My progress seems directly related to growing theological discovery of God’s glory in the gospel, through dissatisfaction with myself as a preacher, through the joy of seeing God use me, and through the assurance that at any time God can rend the heavens and come down in revival power.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

Early in my ministry, I needed twenty-plus hours to prepare. By now, the disciplines are more streamlined. I average perhaps ten hours or so.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallize it?

I often fall in love with every detail in my text, so that I tend toward excess at that level in my preaching. But I try to ask, “What is the precise pastoral burden of this unique passage?” Every detail, however fascinating, is there in the text to help construct that one overall message. So, after I have written my sermon draft, I go back and interrogate every sentence, “Do you really need to be here?” If not, it disappears.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?

The most important aspect, in my view, is believability — the believability of the message and of the preacher himself. The first is a matter of clarity (exposition), defense (apologetics) and force (power in application). I want so to persuade the people that they are left thinking, “Well, of course. How could it be otherwise? I receive this as truth, I love this as beauty, I want this to change me.” I try to avoid everything about myself that may distract from that outcome.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?

I use a full manuscript. But I try to be in sufficient control of the flow of thought and certain key phrases that it doesn’t get in my way. I want to enjoy the sermon and the people in the moment.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?

The greatest peril is forgetting what preaching is there for in the first place. It is not there as a platform for pet theories, inner-church politics, the culture wars, developing a personal following for myself or for proving how cool I can be. The preaching ministry is there for the display of Jesus Christ, according to the gospel. It is for him alone, as he wants to speak to the people, love them, help them, save them. Preaching is a sacred experience and must not be profaned by misplaced enthusiasms.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)

I wish I had a good answer here. It is a constant struggle. The only chance I have for success is setting aside protected blocks of time when I am quiet and alone with God and my books. That usually means I get away from my office. There is a difference between an office and a study. Right now all I have is an office. So I have to get out of here to do serious study.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?

My favorite is Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers, especially the final chapter, “Demonstration of the Spirit and of the Power.” I am stirred even now just to think about it. Oh, that I might preach just one apostolic, anointed sermon before I die!

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?

I want to do more in this way. I did teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for nine years. And now, indirectly, my participation in The Gospel Coalition serves to lift up the next generation of preachers. I also desire to be encouraging to other preachers in the Acts 29 Network. And I hope that in five or six years my successor at Immanuel Church will be here, established in ministry, so that he can grow in authority as I fade away.

Previously on 10 Questions

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Ten Questions For Expositors – Derek Thomas

January 16, 2008

“Originally from Wales, Dr. Derek Thomas is the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. After pastoring for 17 years in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dr Thomas returned to the USA in 1996 where, in addition to his work at the seminary, he serves as the Minister of Teaching at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.” (from First Presbyterian Church, Jackson Website)

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Today Dr Thomas kindly and thoughtfully responds to our ten questions for expositors. For some of Derek’s ministry, try here.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
I can do no better than to cite those famous words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the beginning of his book, Preaching and Preachers: “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the Church it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.” I thoroughly concur with that assessment, both of the importance of preaching and its importance to the life and vitality of the church.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
As a student at Aberystwyth University, I was encouraged on several occasions to speak on behalf of the Christian Union at a retirement home. Then, I recall Geoff Thomas asking me to speak on a Sunday afternoon in a church a few miles outside Aberystwyth. There were three people present, one of whom was the organist who sat behind me! These were the dawning of my sense of exhilaration (and fear!) about being called spend the rest of my life as a preacher. That was thirty-five years ago and I’ve been preaching ever since.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
Do I really have to answer this question? I suppose it depends on the passage. I’ve never been one to spend all week preparing sermons. Frankly, I have never understood that. Many sermons are over-cooked and lack the feeling of spontaneity. Since I’ve engaged in consecutive expository preaching pretty much the entire time and therefore the upcoming text is known on Monday morning, it is “on my mind” all week. In one sense then, sermons are “cooked” for many days but I’ve always been better when under pressure and the energy of “Saturday night fever” has more than once been a terrifying, yet rewarding experience. I suppose if I were honest, I spend two to three hours of serious, intensive study, mainly in crafting, but the application might come to me as I’m walking the dog, mulling over what this or that might mean to the dear people to whom I preach. I’ve only once changed my sermon walking up the steps to the pulpit, having conclude that what I had hatched was a “stinker”; but I have often wished that I had had the courage to do it more than once given the resulting sermon! Having said that, I tell my students (I teach a course on preaching—if that’s possible, which I often doubt) to start first thing on Monday morning!

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
Ah yes—what Haddon Robinson calls “the BIG Idea”. Yes, this is very important to me. I want folk to apply the Sunday lunch question to the children: what was the sermon about this morning? Is it possible to answer that question in any coherent form? Few congregations can handle a complex set of ideas that have little or no “connective tissue.” Some can! And that’s why we can never be dogmatic about sermonic form. It is so much about culture and congregational maturity. But all the great homileticians agree that a sermon may have many ideas but they should all emerge out of a principal or “big” idea. That’s not new, of course. You can find that in Aristotle or Cicero. I think it helps people focus after the sermon is over.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
Hmm. Boy, these are hard questions! Style—that’s such a subjective thing, isn’t it. It depends on whether we mean the form of the sermon or the individual mannerism of the preacher. I find preachers who read their sermon, using lots of notes, very tedious. I want eye-contact. I equally find dispassionate sermons boring. I often think of something I once read in Robert Murray McCheyne: that a congregation will forgive you almost anything so long as they are sure that you love them. I want that to come across in a sermon, no matter how “simple” it may be. I want genuineness or in today’s jargon, “authenticity”.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
A lot less than I used to use! I have tried using my laptop for sermon preparation but taking anything printed is deadly for me. I usually have a sheet of paper about six inches by four inches on which I scribble an outline and some basic notes with my favorite fountain pen. Sometimes I write on both sides, but not always. I try not to have long quotes—if I can’t remember it or ad lib it, it will probably flop in delivery. I frequently preach with no notes at all when I’m preaching a sermon I’ve preached before in a different location. I wish I could do this on every occasion and strive to be as note free as possible.

7. What are the greatest perils that a preacher must avoid?
My closest friends will be whispering “Derek, remember what happened at Alistair Begg’s!” in my ear, but that’s far too embarrassing to record here! To answer your question—there are so many things that come to mind. I’ve heard preachers become angry in the pulpit about everything, reflecting I think their own state of mind more than anything else. But, to be brief, the greatest peril that I face is professionalism. I have been preaching for over thirty-five years and know the mechanics of preaching. It can all become “just another sermon” to be forgotten as quickly as it was delivered. I hate that. I want to experience the thrill that God would use a worm like me to declare the unsearchable riches of Christ. Every time!

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. leadership responsibilities, blogging!)
With gloves on! My time is very precious and I have to tell my students, “Do as I say and not as I do!” It requires a schedule that is kept to rigorously. Certain afternoons or mornings means “Sermon time—cannot be disturbed except for death or opera! Just kidding about the death part! And an understanding and supportive wife is absolutely essential. I am blessed beyond words to have one.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
I blogged about this recently with a friend of ours in which I mentioned the continuing effect of Geoff Thomas who was the first (consecutive) preacher I ever heard. Though I rarely hear him these days – we’re in different continents after all—I still find myself saying something, or using a particular gesture in which my wife will comment (on the way home in the car), “I see Geoff was there tonight!” It has not been books about preaching that have influenced me the most but listening to preachers. Some sermons stand out that I “hear” again and again in my mind though they were delivered decades ago. Al Martin on John 3; Sinclair Ferguson on Matthew 16; Donald MacLeod on Philippians 2. And these days, my dear friend Logon Duncan on some pretty odd Old Testament texts! We are very different in style, I think, but he constantly amazes me, being able to bring out the gospel from a text that looked as dry as dust. He has one of the best minds I know, but his preaching is straight-forward and plain—in the good puritan sense of the term.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
Apart from teaching at seminary where I encounter tomorrow generation of preachers every day, I have tried to develop the habit of being an encourager of other preachers by constantly telling them what I found of benefit in their sermons. Yes, I’ve heard some bad ones, but even the worst—if there was an attempt to point to Jesus Christ—have something in them that I want to encourage. I am encouraged here in the States about tomorrow’s preachers. There is a growing army of Calvinistic preachers whose evangelistic zeal puts me to shame. They are encouraging me more than I am encouraging them.

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10 Questions – Paul W Martin

November 22, 2007

Today Paul W. Martin kindly shares with us the latest installment of our 10 Questions for Expositors. Do take time to read his detailed and very helpful answers. Paul shepherds Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto Canada and also lectures at Toronto Baptist Seminary. Spare a thought for Paul, who along with preparing expositions every Sunday also has the daunting challenge of pastoring Tim Challies!

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1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
Preaching defines, drives and feeds the life of the church. “Expository exultation” establishes our vision of who God is and that feeds our delight in Him. The more we delight in Him and not the world, generally the more we live for Him moment by moment. My observation has been that churches spiritually thrive where there is a man faithfully digging deep into the Word and delivering that Truth as best as he can week by week. On the other side, I have seen many churches (even full ones) slide into spiritual decline as the preaching of the Word of God is ignored or forgotten.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
I was naturally quiet and avoided crowds as a young man, but I felt my soul come alive when I studied the Word. I found it nearly impossible to study Scripture privately and not start talking to someone about what I had seen there. That seemed to lead to different teaching opportunities in small groups.

Strangely, I had always thought I would be a pastor – long before my conversion. But my vision of pastoral ministry was a reflection of the bizarre activities of the liberal church circles I ran in as a boy. Once I began to teach and study the Word, I laboured hard over whether I was called to the ministry. Spurgeon’s chapter in Lectures to My Students broke this camel’s back – I could not imagine being content doing anything else other than loving God’s people through the preaching of His Word. I began to pursue opportunities to preach and the Lord’s people confirmed me in it. (That was two paragraphs!)

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
When I first entered the ministry I would spend a minimum of 15-20 hours of preparation for one sermon. Now that has been refined into something closer to 10-12; depending on the text and a host of other factors.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I find most of my sermons drive to one major point, but this has more to do with the structure of the text itself than being constrained to any one homiletic model. Rightly understood, most texts have a singular, over-arching point. If I can, I try to distill that major point into one sentence – usually something in the sermon-writing process that I cannot do until the very end. That thought/point then determines much of the introduction to the sermon and functions as the skeleton to the sermon body.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
I had one of those epiphany moments in this regard while eating lunch with Geoff Thomas of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Wales. In asking him about preaching (something I think every preacher should do with other preachers!) he noted that it had taken him many years to “find his own voice.” If you have heard Geoff preach, you know that his voice is very unique to him – I could listen to him preach all day long! But I think this is perhaps the greatest battle every preacher faces. Learning to be yourself, to say things in your own words, to genuinely “connect” with your hearers – no doubt this is part of what makes men from John MacArthur to Mark Driscoll so endearing to so many. The preacher is genuine and he seems to give you himself as he gives you the Word. In the category of things to avoid, besides the obvious “don’t jingle loose change in your pockets,” or “don’t read your manuscript” I would add: Don’t be content with “sleepers.” I cannot understand a preacher that tolerates disinterest in the Word of God. It is the Truth! We ought to do all that we humanly can to make that Truth alive to sinner and saint alike!

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
I carry a handwritten manuscript into the pulpit. I find by using the pen and not the keyboard that I can shape things on the page to reflect their place in the sermon. I experimented with a typed manuscript (full and partial) last year for six months. I thought it took away from my freedom so I reverted to the old-school method! I strive for liberty in the pulpit and there is something about handwritten notes that makes this easier to attain.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
All the horrible heart sins of pride, envy, bitterness and jealousy. Those can birth themselves in many different ways depending on the man and the areas in which he is prone to sin. I find envy an area I have to battle more and more. I may hear of the Lord growing a work of a man who’s preaching does little for me, or who’s theology is suspect in some large ways and it bugs me. Such pride! I am praying for more of Paul’s heart as seen in Philippians 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” I think most of us preachers are prone to think far too much of ourselves. Then again, maybe it is just me.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
“Fight to balance” rather answers the question, doesn’t it? It really is a fight. On a practical level, I give priority to study. That is what I am called to do and that is what my little flock expects out of me week by week. I need to be in the Word for most of Tuesday and then I can come at it through the week again as it simmers in the back of my brain. I write the actual sermons on Friday which allows another full day for thoughts to percolate before sermon delivery. We also have many able and gifted men in our church leadership, so our deacons and my co-elder all take up many different duties.

Finally, I try to learn my limitations and the limitations of my family. If I was single I would more than likely work 22 hours a day – but that is not good for a marriage or children and I am so incredibly grateful God blessed me with both! With four kids at home still, I am happy to invest much time into their lives now.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
• George Whitefield for calling sinners to repentance from sin and faith in Jesus, and for the freedom to “colourize” the Truth with illustration and story.
• Dr. Lloyd-Jones for modeling how a text must press on the hearer’s conscience.
• John MacArthur for book-by-book exposition and the willingness to keep at it when everyone else seems to jump over to more “pragmatic” means.
• C.J. Mahaney for careful and thoughtful application of the text.
• Alex Montoya for preaching with passion.
• Michael Haykin for wedding historical fact to living truth.
• And my favorite living preacher, Bob Hueni; also my father-in-law. A man who never had the blessing of seminary training but stayed true to the text, preached it with passion, lived it in his life, read it daily, illustrated it creatively, prayed it privately, exhorted with it publicly and gazed from it with piercing eyes from the pulpit right down into your soul. Years and other duties keep him from preaching from the pulpit now – but he still preaches with his life daily.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
I teach pastoral theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary which means I am always around young preachers. Many of my students attend my church and I meet with them weekly in a small group aimed to work on their sanctification and preaching skills. Each man takes a turn to teach us for 5 minutes and then we all say what we liked about it… and maybe one or two suggestions for improvement. I have always had little groups like this running. Stuart Olyott once said that there is little point in this kind of group unless you allow them to critique you as well, so I try to invite their ideas about my preaching, too. (That tends to help on that envy and pride thing I was talking about earlier!) I also keep an eye on the future men in our church. We try to identify possible future preachers early and give them age-appropriate opportunities to try that possible gift.

Previously on 10 Questions
* Tim Keller
* Philip Ryken
* Voddie Baucham
* Liam Goligher
* Vaughan Roberts
* Thabiti Anyabwile
* Peter Grainger
* Derek Prime
* John Brand
* Steve Cole
* A young Scottish expositor!

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10 Questions For Expositors – Steve Cole

November 13, 2007

Its our great priviledge today to have Steve Cole of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship answer our 10 Questions for Expositors.

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By the way, if you happen to personally know any other relatively well known expositors who have not yet filled in the 10 Questions, could you help me twist their arm – ‘in a sanctified way’ – to answers the questions and have them send them my direction? The likes of Dever, MacArthur, Piper, Begg, Lawson and Mahaney would be especially welcome! For us ‘less-gifted’ preachers in the kingdom… Colin

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
Preaching is very important, in that it elevates the authority of God over the entire congregation. It sets the tone and agenda for the church. If people do not honor God’s Word, they will not grow and the church will be tossed around by every wind of doctrine. And there are plenty of strong winds blowing these days!

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
When I was in college, I tried teaching the Bible and found, much to my surprise, people seemed really to be helped by it. I never actually preached to any extent, though, before I began in the pastorate 30 years ago.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
I manuscript all of my sermons, which are available for people to pick up as they walk into church. I also post them on our web site. To do this level of teaching/preaching takes me about 15 hours per week. Some weeks it takes longer if it is a difficult text or if the sermon just doesn’t flow together. On a few rare weeks, it flows together much more quickly. But usually I have to sweat and agonize through the entire process.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallize it?
Yes, I sat under Haddon Robinson at Dallas Seminary, and if you are familiar with his method, he teaches that every sermon must succinctly drive home one major idea. Crystallizing this idea is the hard work of preaching. But I find if I’m not clear about it, I probably don’t understand the text as well as I need to. Sometimes in the middle of preparing the sermon, I realize that I am still not clear, so I go back and rework it. The main idea governs the entire sermon outline, with all of the points supporting or explaining that one idea.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
He must be authentic (i.e, not copying someone else’s style). He must not preach what he is not attempting to practice, and he must not falsely imply or convey that he is living a certain way if it is not true. In other words, if I’m struggling with my prayer life, I need to let people know that it’s a struggle, not convey that I’m a great prayer warrior.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
I take my full manuscript into the pulpit, with key words highlighted or underlined with a colored pen. But I do not read it. I glance down at each paragraph and due to having written it and editing it several times and going over it several more before the sermon, I pretty much know where I’m going. The only part I read are quotations.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
We must avoid neglecting our own walk with the Lord and just preaching as a performance. In other words (1 Tim. 4:16), “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching.” Your preaching must flow out of a genuine, fresh walk with Christ. And I am continually overwhelmed with a sense of my own inadequacy, both in the preparation and delivery of sermons. But that keeps me dependent on the Lord (2 Cor. 3:5).

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
It’s always a struggle, but the church knows that my preaching preparation time is important and they leave me alone (for the most part) unless there is an emergency or crisis. I am not a strong visitation pastor, in the sense of Richard Baxter. I admire the man, but I could never come close to his routine.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
Haddon Robinson’s “Biblical Preaching” consists of his classroom lectures, which were my training. I don’t follow him to a tee, but he helps you be clear about the process. I found T. H. L. Parker’s “Calvin’s Preaching” to be very helpful. As far as examples, I really enjoy John Piper’s preaching. I also have read many of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons, as well as his book on preaching. While I don’t follow his style very closely, I have benefitted immensely from his careful analysis of Scripture.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
I don’t have any set of “steps” that I follow. I have often met with small groups of young men who are interested in the things of God, discussing various aspects of ministry. We have read books like J. I. Packer’s “A Quest for Godliness,” about the Puritans. Also, they have my weekly example of Bible exposition, and often we have discussed a recent sermon. I often share with them the struggle I’m having with a text or putting a message together, and we interact on it. Sometimes I will help them if they are preparing a sermon. Many of these young men have gone on to seminary and into ministry.

Previously on 10 Questions
* Tim Keller
* Philip Ryken
* Voddie Baucham
* Liam Goligher
* Vaughan Roberts
* Thabiti Anyabwile
* Peter Grainger
* Derek Prime
* John Brand
* A young Scottish expositor!

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10 Questions – Brand

August 29, 2007

John Brand is currently the Vice Principal of Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh and has previously served with AIM International. He has also served as a pastor. John ‘blogs’ on preaching over at A Steward of the Secret Things and today we are priviledged to put our 10 Questions to him.

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1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
I am utterly and increasingly convinced it has to be the heartbeat and central focus. There are many hallmarks of a true church and many things churches should be doing but none more vital and strategic than the faithful preaching of the Word of God.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
I was born into a Manse, the son and grandson of missionary preachers, and I think to start with it was almost a natural ting to do – to try my hand at preaching. My father’s church – who were not, it has to said, the most discerning of folk – gave me opportunity in my mid-teens and I was encouraged to persevere as well as sensing a growing burden and joy in my own spirit for this great work.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
To be honest, it takes me longer now than when I started out more than 30 years ago and in the Lords goodness I think that is partly because I take the responsibility much more seriously now than at any other time in my life. I guess these day it takes me anywhere between 12 and 15 hours on average.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I wish I had realised the importance of this in my early days of preaching because I have come to realise how vital this issue is for effective communication. There is a tendency, especially when you are younger, to try and cram too much into one sermon and generally speaking, not only can most folk not cope with that but it can so easily blur the God-intended focus of the passage. In some way I find this the hardest and often most time-consuming aspect of preparation and yet you can’t move forward until you have identified it. For me, I just try writing out ‘the big idea’ again and again and again; restating it until I feel I am doing justice to the Scripture I am working.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
Firstly, it is vital that we are truly ourselves in the pulpit and not try to be somebody or something we are not. Affected tones of voice and imitation of others is for the stage and not the pulpit. Sincerity and integrity are key. Two other vital ingredients for me are earnestness and passion. We live in a day and age of all too often lifeless, take-it-or-leave-it preaching and it’s inconsistent with the message we preach or the one in whose name we claim to speak.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
These days, my notes are much fuller than they used to be, though I have gone through different stages in my ministry. It varies too depending on the nature of the sermon. A more closely reasoned exposition, working through the logic of a passage, for example, will demand more notes than a study in one of the parables. For me, it’s not so much the quantity of the notes but the familiarity with the text and notes and though my notes are fuller I probably refer to them less than I used to.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
I have already referred to things like affectation. We must also studiously avoid disclosing confidences, even by allusion. We must avoid ‘showing off’ the work done in preparation. Perhaps the greatest sin to avoid is saying any less or any more than the text we are preaching says.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
In recent years this has been a special challenge for me, heading up a Mission agency, rather than in church-based pastoral ministry. However, I always sought to guard preparation time and it has, thankfully, been in my Job Description. It’s really a case of identifying and protecting priorities. I have had to ring fence time slots and tell my colleagues that I am unavailable except in emergencies. It has been particularly hard with the huge amounts of travelling that I have been doing, but journeys can be useful times for reading and reflection which are vital parts of the preparation process.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
During my student days I read through Lloyd-Jones sermons on Romans and Ephesians and, albeit largely unconsciously, imbibed a commitment to systematic, verse by verse exposition, though not at the same level of detail as the Doctor! Sinclair Ferguson taught and modelled homiletics as well as systematic theology and made a monumental impact on my life and, humanly speaking, I owe him a unique debt. Book-wise, in more recent years Bryan Chapell’s ‘Christ-centred Preaching’ made a massive impression on me as did John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in preaching’. Both should be compulsory reading for all preachers.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
This has always been a joyful privilege and responsibility for me. In my first pastorate I gather a group of 3 men and we met on a monthly basis to encourage one another and I gave them regular opportunities to cut their preaching teeth and try and help them. In my role with Aim International nothing has give me more joy than my annual Preachers’ Workshops with the leaders of our partner Church in Sudan. This autumn, in my home Church, Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Glasgow, I am involved in a monthly seminar for preachers and would-be preachers and in my new role on the staff of the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh, one of my remits will be homiletics. I count it a real privilege to have these opportunities to encourage others.
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For some John Brand sermons, click here.

Previously on 10 Questions
* Tim Keller
* Philip Ryken
* Voddie Baucham
* Liam Goligher
* Vaughan Roberts
* Thabiti Anyabwile
* Peter Grainger
* Derek Prime
* A young expositor!

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10 Questions – Derek Prime

August 22, 2007

Derek Prime was the senior pastor of Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Edinburgh from 1969 – 1986. He is known more widely both for his preaching and writing, and closer to home for his gracious and wise pastoral heart. In case you haven’t read it, “On Being A Pastor” which he co-wrote with his previous assistant Alistair Begg is a must have.

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1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
I would place it unequivocally as number one priority because it is the primary means of bringing people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and then building them up in Him.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
Soon after my conversion in my early teens it was my turn to speak in a small young people’s group in the church fellowship to which I belonged. It so ‘happened’ that the pastor was present that evening and at the conclusion of the meeting he spoke to me in such a way that the secret thoughts and convictions I had had about wanting to serve God as a pastor/teacher were encouraged and confirmed. My Bible Class teacher soon after took me with him when he conducted services as a lay-preacher, encouraging me first to take part in some small way and then to preach. From that introduction an increasing number of invitations came to me to speak and preach.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
I find it difficult to answer this in terms of even an average amount. Much depends on time available and the familiarity I have with the passage. When I have the time, I would aim to spend a morning ideally of three and a half hours looking at the text/passage in its context and jotting down possible approaches. Then the next morning I would choose the simplest and most straightforward and type the sermon out in full.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I would not wish to be dogmatic about this because the text or passage should determine whether there is one or more major theme or idea. It is important, however, to remember that our hearers do not have the benefit of our study time and if there is a major theme or idea in the text/passage then the sermon should accurately reflect this.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
I think I would say simplicity. Only yesterday I finished reading a biography of J. C. Ryle entitled That Man of Granite with the Heart of a Child by Eric Russell. He tells of how an old lady went out of her way to hear Bishop Ryle preach. After the service she told a friend that she had been very disappointed. “I never heard a Bishop,” she said, “I thought I’d hear something great. He’s nowt. He’s no Bishop. I could understand every word.” When Ryle heard the story, he said it was the greatest compliment he had ever had paid to his preaching. The better we understand what we saying the simpler we should be. It is no credit to us if people remark on how clever we are.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
I use full notes, although I highlight with a marker the principal phrase or word in each paragraph and that is usually sufficient to quicken my memory and to give me freedom to preach without slavish dependence on them.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
Failure to relate every Scripture to the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Cross in God’s revelation

Pride – unconsciously perhaps seeing preaching as a means of gaining praise for oneself rather than seeking the praise and honour of God and His Son

Failing to feed the flock – forgetting the Lord Jesus’ words, ‘Feed my lambs…Feed my sheep.’

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (e.g. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)?
There is no easy answer but the emphasis must be upon self-discipline. For example, reserving mornings for study and preparation, the determination of priorities in pastoral care and not allowing pastoral care to be separated from the task of preaching in that our calling is to be pastors and teachers.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
One of the early books I read on preaching – if not the first – was James Black’s The Mystery of Preaching and it probably made the greatest impression upon me. James Stewart’s two books on the subject were a help also. The two exemplars when I began my ministry were John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, very different in style and both conspicuous for their evangelical witness and faithfulness to the Scriptures.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
I probably would not have phrased the question like this! Any influence I have had in this area has been through God’s providence. In both churches of which I was pastor I had a series of preaching and teaching classes to encourage and to discover spiritual gift. Having been encouraged myself by two men in particular when I was young, I have felt bound to try and repay my debt by encouraging potential pastor/teachers and those in their early years of ministry. The initiative has not always been with me but over the last eighteen years or more I have met on both a regular and occasional basis with a number of men. Finally, as I reflect on it, the privilege of having pastor’s assistants in both churches – probably a total of fourteen men – provided the greatest unconscious opportunity to encourage future preachers.

Over at Steward Of Secret Things, some of Derek’s Recommended Books
For more of Derek’s books, try here.