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