Brian is the author of a great blog for pastors as well as a number of books, including Visit the Sick, and Test, Train, Affirm and Send Into The Ministry. We look forward to reading Brian’s answers to our 10 Questions For Expositors!
1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
It must be central. The preached word in the corporate gathering must be that from which everything else flows. It is how God breathes life into a church and builds a healthy one. However, preaching in itself doesn’t accomplish this, but the faithful exposition of God’s Word in preaching does. The regular preaching diet of the church and the kind of preaching that exists, will direct the rest of the church life.
2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
In my early twenties, God gave me an unquenchable love for the Word of God. As I devoured the Scriptures, God began to give me a desire to want to teach it. As I began to teach it, God affirmed that gift, which led to a desire to preach. Gifts to preach must come out of a love for the Word of God, not skillful oratory. Once I realized the power behind preaching came from the text’s impact upon the preacher and the Spirit’s work through that, I realized God had called me to this work. That gift was then affirmed by others (external call).
3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
10 -15 hours for a 45 minute sermon.
4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallize it?
Yes. My sermon preparation works much like an upside down funnel. My title and purpose statement reflect the one main idea I want to convey. Then, I develop my outline of main points and sub points. Before I write my sermon, I make sure there is continuity in my skeleton, before adding the meat. I want my hearers to know what the one main idea was in my sermon and that that one main idea is the main purpose of the text I preached.
5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
The most important aspect for the preacher to own is the exact opposite of what he should avoid. What is most important is that the preacher be himself in the pulpit, and avoid trying to be those who have influenced his preaching. I say this, because so many try to be someone else they think preaches well, but miss the importance of being who God has made them to be in the pulpit. Be yourself, not your preaching hero. If you are not who you are in the pulpit, you are a phony, even if you mimic John Piper well as you do it.
6. What notes, if any, do you use?
I write a full word for word manuscript and take into the pulpit with me. However, I have so marked it up with highlighters; it is as if I am preaching a detailed outline. I also try to memorize as much of it as I can so not to appear tied to it and freed to go off it if led to do so.
7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
Being someone else. Relying on your own strength to preach. Being impressed with yourself. Stepping into the pulpit with no fear of the Lord…to name a few.
8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
I set certain time aside on certain days to study and prepare to preach that cannot be filled with other things. I find the other important responsibilities try to squeeze out my prep time and I have to block them out. I have even been known to leave the office and hide at a coffee shop to write my sermon to prevent that time from being consumed with other, important matters.
9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
Christ-centered preaching (Chapel), An Ernest Ministry (James), Between Two Worlds (Stott), John Piper, Alister Begg, Mark Dever, Bill Hughes, Thabiti Anyabwile are some of my favorite preachers to hear.
10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
Give them opportunities to preach and then for them to receive loving feedback by those in their local church who love them. Evaluate them based on where they are in their process to test their gifts (3rd sermon or 35th). Speak honestly with them. I involved them in my sermon preparation and allow them to learn as they hear me preach and wrestle with the text.
* You can listen to some of Brian Croft’s sermons here.Tweet