10 Questions For Expositors – Julian Hardyman

Julian Hardyman is the senior pastor of Eden Baptist Church in Cambridge, England. Prior to his appointment in 2002, he served on staff at Eden and also at Cornerstone Evangelical Church in Nottingham. Julian explains God’s Word with clarity, and applies Scripture pastorally and pointedly.

It is our great pleasure to have Julian answer our 10 Questions for Expositors.

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

Central. The church is ruled, energised, envisioned, directed, encouraged, rebuked, retuned and recalibrated through the word of God heard in preaching. The role of preaching in congregational and individual growth is second to nothing. And most of it needs to be done by the pastor (s) with pastoral responsibility for the congregation.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
  • In my 20s I turned down four invitations to preach from four different pastors out of fear
  • Then I was asked to preach in a church service by mistake. The pastor rang me by mistake but didn’t want to admit it so he asked me to preach instead of the person he had meant to ring. He then wrote the sermon for me. He heard it and said it was the best first sermon he had ever heard which wasn’t surprising as they were his words. The second one sounded like a talk on Radio 3.
  • Then I preached a bit more and started to discover my own voice and that people seemed to be helped by it.
  • Preaching labs as they were called at seminary (TEDS) were very helpful.
  • Then simply preaching week in week out for many years.

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

Somewhere between 8-15 hours. It is getting quicker I think as I trust my extemporisation powers more than I used to, so I have less felt need of a detailed and polished ms than I did.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea?

Yes – I think this is vital.

If so, how do you crystallize it?

I try to make it as specific as I can while retaining logical and symmetrical relationship to all the main points. If it becomes too general it is the same theme most weeks which is dull.

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

The natural expression of the preachers’ relationship with his God and his people. Anything else is ego or artifice. Neither is a good medium for the speaking God.

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

Because my church is in central Cambridge I made a decision some years ago to use fairly full notes in the interests of verbal precision. There is some loss in immediacy and naturalness as a result. I am breaking more free of the ms the longer I am here. If I preach elsewhere i tend to use more sketchy notes and rely on a more extempore composition of individual sentences. My ideal would be as few notes as possible given any particular situation. It makes for much more natural communication.

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

  • Assuming theological soundness and right handling of the text……..
  • Not preaching the positive aspect of the text in an inspiring way but leaving people with a heavy, condemned feel rather than a grace driven sense of liberation. In other words preaching law not grace.
  • Self-promotion: preaching is such a wonderful opportunity to go on ego trips.
  • Simply communicating information without any inspiration or ‘Jesus perfume’ (2 Corinthians 2:15).
  • Failing to communicate in our ethos that our logos (‘God is love’, ‘there is Good News’) is true.
8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other
important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
  • Set aside large bits of the week for it – most of Thursday and Friday for example, with Tues or Weds am for passage translation
  • I have a month’s study leave every summer. During that I read lots of background of the book I am going to preach next, and get into the text so I have drafted the outline for the sermon series
9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most
influential in your own preaching?
  • Peter Lewis from Nottingham was that pastor who got me started in preaching. What I learned from him was moving towards pastoral application to people’s relationship with God, speaking the energy of the text into that relationship existentially so that there is always the assumption that preaching takes place in a context in which God is real, and at work in folk’s lives. No one does that like Peter, not even the current conference darlings.
  • Chappell’s Christ-centred preaching helped me a lot on outlining (which I think is very important).
  • Stott on Double listening is very important I think.
  • Ray Ortlund is a wonderful example of reasoning with people pastorally about the text rather than just declaring it didactically
10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future
 We run preaching classes or groups for younger folk. We give them the chance to do talks in different settings, then preach in local village churches (a less intimidating setting than central Cambridge), then in Eden. We give feedback and encouragement. We look to help them develop and grown.


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