10 Questions For Expositors – Frank Retief

Frank Retief is currently the Rector Emeritus of St James’ Church, Kenilworth, South Africa.  He has for many years been an expositor and national conference speaker, and also written several books, including “Divorce” and Tragedy to Triumph: A Christian Response to Trials and Suffering.*

You can find Frank Retief’s sermons here.

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

In the centre.

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

I think too much time is taken to discover gifts.  It can be a very self-centred thing.  I never bothered to discover mine and the older I get the more convinced I have become that I have no special gift.  Rather a jack-of-all-trades.  In any event other people should speak to this question – not me.

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

This depends on my subject or passage and how familiar I am with it.

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

One main idea , several supporting ideas.  It is hard to tell how one crystallises it.  Each individual does it differently.

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

It is impossible to comment on style.  All have different personalities.  Avoid the projection of self and keep the Gospel central.

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

A full outline but not a written script.

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

All the perils all Christians face but to a greater degree.  A subtle peril is projection of self.  The greatest peril is to forget there is a judgement coming and a Hell.  This puts urgency into the preacher’s very bones.

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

It’s a fight that never ends.  But the preacher must just fight that fight.  Ministry is a complicated calling.  The safest way is to determine a routine and stick to it.  Your ability to keep that routine will depend on your determination and the calibre of the other staff around you if you have them.

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

Lloyd Jones, Stott, Charles Bridges are classics.  Many other books too numerous to name.  But to really benefit one should read biographies of great preachers.  It’s their zeal we should emulate, not their preaching styles.

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

(This question was unanswered)


* It is worth noting that Frank Retief’s congregation was subject to a terrible attack in 1993, when 11 church attenders were killed.

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