Reflections on effective Preaching: “A view from the pew”

  1. 14–Charles-SpurgeonFor a preacher to have mastery of a passage, the passage ought to have mastery over him.
  2. Preachers who preach God’s truth into life (births, deaths, marriages, job losses, debts, breakins, car accidents, cancers etc.) give me the equipment to fight and survive as God’s child in the real world.
  3. Good preachers obliterate the divide between lofty grandeur of God and the messiness of real life, so that I see and do something about the constant rub of idolatry against the call to discipleship in my own life.
  4. I love it when preachers tell me what arrests, intrigues, amazes and captivates them from God’s word. A preacher’s delighted, wide-eyed insight is a massive aid to engagement.
  5. Preachers with a humble conviction about the authority of preaching pack more punch.
  6. “Unpacking a passage” is much less exciting than releasing a wild lion into our midst.
  7. I sense when a preacher’s preparation has included preparation of his own heart, because he preaches not only to me but to himself.
  8. I find preachers who walk boldly into a passage hungry for vital truth, fearless of apparent exegetical, theological or pastoral difficulty are far more compelling for their courage.
  9. I like to hear a preacher’s certainty born of a thoroughness of preparation and theological conviction.
  10. It is frustrating when a sermon has no application.
  11. I am discouraged when applications are effectively an exercise in heaping guilt on the listener. Rhetorical questions are a cheap way out! It is different from being challenged by gospel. My guilt has been taken by Christ!
  12. I’m captivated when I get sense that the preacher’s hardest fight has been the fight for his own soul, obedience, understanding and submission to the truth.
  13. Only after taking God’s word to his own heart is a preacher able to cleverly, sensitively, wisely, boldly craft a sermon that has the hearts of others as its goal. Pastors make good preachers – they are students of their own heart and other’s. They anticipate my questions.
  14. Laughter opens hearts and minds and helps me stay awake.
  15. Listeners lose interest when the preacher has lost interest first. (Boredom is the new morality – if it is boring it is more than wrong!)
  16. Every preacher must ask himself at the end of every sermon, “So what!?”
  17. God-breathed scriptures are full of risk, danger, opportunity, drama and daring – not like a stuffed lion in a museum. Tame sermons turn the living Word of God into a lifeless museum exhibit.
  18. Preachers shouldn’t be afraid of deep truths that average mortals have to take time and thought to comprehend. It isn’t bad that a listener doesn’t understand something this time round.
  19. I feel secure when preacher shares his sermon structure/aim for his sermon with me.
  20. Passion in preaching is by product of love for God.
  21. Preachers who tell me how to feel – or how they feel – leave my feelings unstirred. Challenge is to so use their words and their insight into the text and people to add the weight of all their energies to the Spirit’s sovereign work.
  22. Choose someone interesting if you are going to copy another preacher!
  23. Poetry and art are the preacher’s friends – they move hearts and stir affections…that my life would be warm to God!
  24. Biblical theses and models are helpful in my understanding and recall of breadth, theme and unity of the bible.
  25. Biblical theses and models can suck the life out of sermons when they become wheel ruts.
  26. Good preachers don’t take themselves too seriously, but take God’s truth seriously enough to die for.
  27. A sermon must be personal, passionate and pleading – not just a talk.
  28. A truth known intellectually may not be a truth truly comprehended, believed and obeyed. (It’s helpful when a preacher knows I believe it, but that I haven’t acted on it or truly comprehended it. It’s great when a preacher probes, personally, from pulpit!)
  29. You may never say anything really new, but that’s no excuse for not saying it in a fresh way.
  30. My obedience (thought, word, deed) completes God’s purpose for preaching.(These points were taken from a talk given at the QTC Preaching Conference 2012 by musician Colin Buchanan)
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