Why Do We Ignore Wisdom?

When did you last hear a sermon from the “wisdom genre”? 

Just recently I put that question to a bright, ecclectic group of Christian students. The response was a row of bemused and blank faces. One guy eventually offered that his pastor ‘had once preached a series on Ecclesiastes.’  The rest had never heard a sermon on Ecclesiastes, Job or Proverbs.

That’s right: not one sermon.

Such things are anecdotal, I know. Yet I strongly suspect that wisdom is an under-preached genre. At least in the circles where I move, pastors seem to fear that their congregations could not ‘survive’ a series on a wisdom book. In all  fairness, there is some justification for their trepidation!

​Peculiar Challenges

We don’t need ‘the wisdom of Solomon’ to identify some challenges which wisdom literature presents the preacher.

First, there’s the ​style ​of it.  The wisdom genre is dominated by Hebrew poetry. For some of us, Hebrew poetry is completely ‘uncharted waters’. For others of us, though we have studied it for years, it can still seem ”unfamiliar territory’. Whether its coping with the constant use of parallelism, or working out how to preach pithy sayings (Proverbs!) or long theologically inaccurate discourses (Job!), this brand of literature is tough to interpret and tougher to preach.  We fear becoming ship-wrecked on the rocks of the unusual style of this literature.

A second challenge is the ​subjects ​addressed by wisdom literature. The themes that wisdom literature raises are not typical when compared with wider Scripture. For instance, wisdom is rooted in theology but it is not primarily theological instruction. Similarly, wisdom has an ethical dimension, but it is not pure ethical instruction. Wisdom deals with how to live skillful, godly lives in the fear of the Lord. It deals with topics like the choices we make, the friends we choose, and the way we work. It addresses how to make life work, and how to cope when our life seems to unravel.

A final challenge has do with how the ​storyline ​of the bible connects with wisdom literature. In other words, how do we preach wisdom redemptively? Is it possible to preach a Christ-exalting sermon from Proverbs? And if so, how do we do that responsibly? This is an important question and it demands serious thought. It may be our struggle to answer this question, that above all, causes us to shy away from wisdom.

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(I am currently preaching a series on Proverbs, and trying to learn how to do it better. Tomorrow: Why bother with wisdom?)

 

 

You or We?

There are two kinds of preachers; those who predominantly use the second person pronoun in their preaching and those who usually use the first person plural pronoun. There are those who say, “You need to trust God in the difficulties of life,” and there are others who say, “We need to trust God in the difficulties of life.” Okay, I admit, there are some who say, “You and I need to trust God in the difficulties of life.” (Actually, there are too many who say, “You and me need to trust God in the difficulties of life”!)

So which is it? When speaking personally, should we use 2nd person pronouns or 1st person pronouns? Is it “you” or “we”?

I Get the You

I understand why some argue that preaching should be predominantly in the second person pronoun. They emphasise that preaching comes from another world. It is the voice of heaven penetrating earth. The minister is not sharing; he is declaring. He is an ambassador, a herald, speaking on behalf of Christ. In fact, when the minister preaches the Word of God, Christ himself preaches.

That being the case, in a sense, the Christian minister is not part of the congregation as a minister though he is part of the congregation as a Christian. The minister wears two sets of clothes; he is a minister who is speaking on behalf of Christ and he is a Christian who is being addressed by Christ through his own preaching. I think the minister of my youth believed this. At least that would explain why he would occasionally interject his sermons with, “And remember, Minister, you are also preaching to yourself.”

This means that when he is calling the congregation to holy living, echoing the Apostle Paul, he declares “You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:7-8a). Mind you, while he does that, he must remember that he is one of the “you” God is addressing.

Second person pronoun preaching has a lot going for it. It follows the predominant pattern of New Testament epistles and it highlights the authoritative nature of Christian preaching.

 I Get the We

I don’t think we should use second person pronouns exclusively. Or should I say, “You shouldn’t use second person pronouns exclusively”?

The main reason I say this is because the New Testament epistles don’t. In Ephesians 2:3 Paul says we were by nature children of wrath. In Titus 2:12 he mentions that the grace of God trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. And the writer to the Hebrews, in his brief exhortation, swings between the second and third person pronouns, sometimes in successive verses (Hebrews 3:12-14).

First person plural usage helps the congregation to remember that the minister is himself subject to weakness (Hebrews 5:2). And because of that, though the minister comes with the authority of the Word of God, as an ambassador of Christ, he himself is under that authority. The Word read and preached addresses and challenges him too. He is not a guru who has mastered Christian living and has risen above the struggles and temptations of his followers; he is a fellow sinner privileged to strengthen his brothers and sisters through the ministry of God’s Word. The congregation doesn’t sit at the feet of the minister; the minister and congregation sit at the feet of Christ the Prophet who ministers to them by his Word and Spirit.

Personally Speaking, Use Both

I wouldn’t want to quantify the amount one should use the first or second personal pronouns. It seems to me that the preacher will find the balance as he is conscious of two things: he himself is a sinner desperately needing the grace of God in Christ and to be strengthened through the Word preached, and, that he speaks as the mouth of God, as one of his ambassadors.

I just finished Herman Selderhuis’ book, John Calvin: a pilgrim’s life, and was struck by how this dual emphasis shaped Calvin the preacher. Selderhuis writes: “Calvin thought that when he spoke as a preacher, it was God himself who spoke”. He supports his assertion with Calvin’s comment, “For of myself I have nothing to say, but I speak as if the mouth of the Teacher.” On the other hand, Selderhuis gleans that Calvin had enough self-knowledge to realize that he himself had to be subject to the Word as well from these words from Calvin: “When I climb into the pulpit, it is not simply to instruct others. I do not exclude myself, since I myself must remain a student as well, and the words that come from my mouth are to serve me as much as others. If not, woe to me!”

In boldly declaring God’s Word may we who are ministers be acutely aware of the need for that Word ourselves.

 

Workman’s Toolbox – 11.12.12

With Christmas on the way, I was reminded of this great video:

Max McLean (that brother with the amazing deep voice!) gives us some thoughts on reading Scripture publicly and bible memorization.

An interview with John Piper on what he has learned over 30 plus years of pastoring. Was struck by this paragraph, where he encourages pastors to think:

“Outrun your people and your colleagues in thinking. That is, stay ahead of them in thinking through biblical implications of what is being said or proposed. Make a practice of thinking before a meeting. Think of as many implications of a proposal as you can. Think of as many objections to the proposal as you can. Think of good biblical answers to all those objections. Think of how much it will cost and how it will be paid for. Think of who might implement it. Think of the ways that it will bring joy—or temporary sorrow. Think about its relation to a dozen other things that people like or don’t like. Sit with your pencil in your hand (or your fingers on the keyboard) and doodle until you’ve exhausted the possibilities, or the time you have. Go to the meeting having thought more than any one else, and more deeply than anyone else. This is what good leaders do.”

RC Sproul reminds us about the true power of preaching.

Workman’s Toolbox – 4.12.2012

Scottish friends, did you know that Paul Tripp is coming to Scotland?  His marriage conference (held at Charlotte Baptist Chapel, Edinburgh) can be booked through The Good Book Company .

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Speaking of Paul Tripp, here is a very convicted post by him: 5 Signs you glorify yourself.

This is helpful by Peter Mead: 10 mistakes preachers make with narrative. I’ve made more than a few of these!

I really like Thabiti Anywabwile definition of preaching:  “God speaking in the power of His Spirit about His Son from His word through a man.” Here is the latest post in his excellent series.

“Who do you think he is?” (a further Christmas text)

Following on from Colin Adams’ excellent article on what to preach at Christmas, let me suggest a further passage of Scripture, and some ideas on how to preach it. “The Genealogy of Jesus” with which Matthew begins his gospel (Matthew 1:1-17) is rarely used at Christmas. “What’s the point of a list of names?” the uninitiated might ask. And “How can I pronounce all those Hebrew names?” (the only time my reading of Scripture was followed by spontaneous applause was after reading through Luke’s genealogy!)

Matthew’s purpose

Of course Matthew, writing his Gospel for a Jewish audience, gives us his reason for beginning with the genealogy in his opening statement: to demonstrate the pedigree of Jesus Christ: “the son of David” (in the royal line), “the son of Abraham” (in the patriarchal line). And the genealogy at least demonstrates that Jesus is a  real human person with named antecedents – not some mythical figure. There is a story of a team with Wycliffe Bible Translators who completed the Gospel of Luke for the first time in a language – except for the genealogy. There was minimal interest in the story from the people group in question until the missionaries finally decided (believing that all Scripture is God’s breathed”) to translate the genealogy – a fairly simple matter of adapting the names using the sound-system of the language. The response when it was read out was astounding and the key to the reception of the gospel in that community.  In a group that prized their ancestors (and could name them many generations back) they realised that this Jesus Christ was a real person – unlike the mythological figures who featured in their own religion.

Surprising people!

But there is even more in Matthew’s genealogy. Kenneth Bailey, whose book “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes – Cultural Studies in the Gospels” (SPCK, 2008) is a must for every preacher (especially at Christmas), points out that Matthew, written for Jews, includes four women in his genealogy and asks why:

Matthew 1 contains a genealogy of Jesus that few bother to read. But a second glance reveals some meaningful surprises. Amazingly, along with the men, Matthew includes the names of four women. Middle Eastern genealogies are expected to be lists of men.  Sirach began his list by saying, “Let us now praise famous men’ (Sirach 44-50) and Luke 3:23-38 is a list of seventy-six men without the inclusion of a single female. Along with a list of forty men, why does Matthew include four women?

And not just any old women! The four listed are all of dubious reputation or background:

  • Tamar (verse 3) See Genesis 38:1-30 – pretended to be a prostitute to entice her father-in-law and got pregnant and was almost killed  by him!
  • Rahab (verse 5) See Joshua 2, 6:24-25 – a Canaanite prostitute
  • Ruth (verse 4) See the Book of Ruth – a member of the Moabite nation, excluded from worship in Israel.
  • Bathsheba (verse 6) See 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:25 – and Matthew won’t even write her name but refers to her as “the wife of Uriah” (a Hittite!)

Yet Matthew deliberately includes them in his genealogy. Why? Bailey answers his question:

“With such a list, Matthew gives us a clue about the kinds of people that the Messiah came to save. He was to be a Saviour for women and men who were both saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles. This genealogy is truly comprehensive. Many can look at the stories of these women and men and find some reflection of themselves.”

Matthew’s Gospel continues…

Little wonder then that Matthew’s Christmas story features foreigners who come to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12) and concludes with the Great Commission given by Jesus to his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations (people-groups)” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Relevance

Any preacher should be able to work out the contemporary relevance of this genealogy. One of the most popular shows on British television with 8 million viewers is “Who do you think you are?” in which well-known people trace their ancestry – with many surprising discoveries.

Some people find out that they have royal blood – others that their great-great-great-grandfather was transported to Australia for stealing a sheep! And many are moved to tears – as was even Jeremy Paxman, the BBC’s “rottwelier” interviewer when he learned of the tragic background of one of his forebears.  Yet Matthew is not embarrassed to include people of dubious reputation people in the genealogy of Jesus – indeed he deliberately (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) includes them. Who do you think he (Jesus) is? Matthew tells you, beginning with the ancestry of Jesus Christ.

“Who do you think you are?”

Here is Christmas gospel/good news for everyone: no matter what your pedigree or background, no matter who you think you are. You can be included in God’s family through faith in Jesus. Here are some useful connecting Scriptures:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:26-29)

 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)

 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  (John 1:11-13) –

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons, through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Gospel opportunity!

Surprise your congregation (who are expecting wise men after shepherds last year!). More importantly, connect with the  visitors who only attend church at Christmas and offer the gospel of hope to rootless people who are “without hope and without God in the world”.

For further ideas,  see the videoed seminar “Preaching Christ at Christmas” on http://2tim4.org/index.php/2009/11/preaching-christ-at-christmas/  and contact me if you would like any of the PowerPoint presentations at peter@2tim4.org

 

Workman’s Toolbox

Here is a great video from Rico Tice that explains the Christmas message.

This is such a powerful article! Geoff Thomas shares seven things that are essential to any pastor’s ministry (Preaching – The Method).

1. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by unfeigned belief in the truthfulness of the Bible.

2. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by enduring tough times.

3. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by toil.

4. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

5. The work of the ministry can only be achieved in the defence of the gospel.

6. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by discriminatory preaching.

7. The work of the ministry will only be achieved by applicatory preaching.

 

Ten Questions For Expositors – Dr Harry L. Reeder

Dr Harry L. Reader III is the senior pastor of Briarswood Presbyterian Church, a 4000 member church in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of Embers to a flame; How God Can Revitalize Your Church, is a Gospel Coalition Council Member, and teaches in various theological seminaries.  Today we are delighted that Dr Reader has taken the time to answer our Ten Questions For Expositors.

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

The ministry of prayer, preaching of the Word and worship leadership with proper administration of the sacraments are my number one and overarching priority in life and ministry.

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

After my conversion I was asked to be the Lay Youth Director and the feedback from teenagers and adults was such that I was being challenged to consider if this was my calling in life, and then the growing joy in preaching and teaching God’s Word for the equipping of His people and communicating the Gospel to the lost became a consuming joy.

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

20 – 25 hours.

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

Yes. I attempt to wordsmith it and then find ways to communicate it throughout the sermon.

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

God’s Word should be preached with reverence, permeated by joy, expressed through amazement from the heart of the preacher to the heart of the people with utter dependence on the Holy Spirit. A preacher must avoid plagiarism and lecturing, while embracing clarity and, conviction, expressed through passion, pleading and persuasion with full reliance upon the Holy Spirit

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

One page of notes but I attempt to only use the notes if necessary for preciseness or as a reminder.

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

See the above…#5 The only addition is a preacher must avoid indolence, immorality and insubordination of any valid authority especially ecclesiastical authority while maintaining his focus, joy and passion for the preeminence of Christ to the Glory of the Triune God.

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

Continue to be aware of the need for prioritization, discipline and intentionality of redeeming the time to do what makes one most effective in their calling.

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

Preaching and Preachers by Martin Lloyd-Jones.  Between Two Worlds by John Stott.  Find Biographies i.e. the Life of George Whitfield and read three to five biographies a year of great preachers/pastors.

I would suggest that pastors find five mentors whom you respect and can learn from.

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

  • I teach in four Seminaries
  • I have a mentoring group of 10 men pursuing ministry
  • Developing a Pastor’s Fellows Program
  • Available for counsel and encouragement for those who seek it.

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You can listen to Dr Reeder’s sermons on the Briarswood website.

Starter For Ten

Tim Chester was our 27th edition of Ten Questions For Expositors, and one of my favorites in the series.  Thought I would list all the past interviews for you so you can check out any you’ve missed.

Tim Chester

Tim Keller

Matt Chandler (pt 1) and (pt 2)

Josh Moody

Conrad Mbewe

Thabiti Anyabwile

Vaughan Roberts

Liam Goligher

Voddie Baucham

Philip Ryken

Steven Lawson

Brian Croft

Frank Retief

Christopher Ash

Robin Weekes

John Shearer

Julian Hardyman

Liam Garvie

Melvin Tinker

10 Question For Expositors – Tim Chester

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Dr Tim Chester is a pastor of The Crowded House in Sheffield and director of Porterbrook Seminary. He is the author of a number of books including The Message of Prayer (IVP), The Busy Christians Guide to Busyness (IVP), You Can Change (IVP/Crossway), From Creation to New Creation (The Good Book Company), Delighting in the Trinity (The Good Book Company), The Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection (IVP), A Meal with Jesus (Crossway/IVP), and co-author of Total Church and Everyday Church (IVP/Crossway). He is married with two daughters.

Today, Tim Chester answers our Ten Questions For Expositors.

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

I believe it’s vital for every church to be word-centred. From creation onwards throughout the Bible story we see God giving life through his word and ruling through his word. And from Eden onwards, when God’s word is doubted or ignored, death and chaos follow.

The difficulty with the question is that we have various definitions of preaching doing the rounds. Your ten questions, for example, use ‘preaching’ and ‘sermons’ interchangeably. I believe preaching in the New Testament is to proclaim the gospel, urging people to faith and repentance, with the aim of capturing their hearts for Christ. The New Testament describes a variety of forms in which this can take place including sermons, debates  and conversations.

I say this not to devalue sermons  (which I love), but to ‘revalue’ other forms of word ministry. The measure of whether a church is word-centred is not simply whether there’s a good sermon each Sunday morning. The measure of being word-centred is that the word is being learnt, lived and loved throughout the life of the church. Our aim should not be to have good Bible teaching churches, but to have good Bible doing churches (James 1:22)!

Please don’t mistake what I’m saying. I realise there are plenty of postmoderns and postevangelicals who want to replace the sermon with some relativistic engagement with the Bible. I don’t want that! My concern in fact is to be more word-centred. I don’t want less than the sermon. I want more than the sermon.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=4e632b01dd&view=att&th=13b0342c3e5a5912&attid=0.1.5&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_LpRd4jnjMa7JTWnIuN3rr&sadet=1352972980116&sads=jUMsCzzo6KrSLIljCAoxfZ8f1vUIn our situation the Sunday sermon sets the agenda for the church each week and we then follow this up in our gospel communities where we work out together how to apply that word to our lives, our life together and the world around us. We also put a big emphasis on creating a culture in which people ‘gospel’ one another (that is, preach the gospel to one another) in the context of everyday life.

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

It started with leading Bible studies when I was a student. I actually preached my first sermon in a Pentecostal church. It was 55 minutes on the theme of redemption. I’m sure it was very boring! I really learnt to preach when I was church planting in Staines with a man called John Miller. He taught me to preach to make an impact rather than simply lecture people.

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

It probably takes me about a day to get the bulk of sermon preparation done.

But that’s not the whole picture. I always prepare a series as whole up front. I want to ensure I have the big picture of the book we’ll be working through (or a good understanding of the subject if the series is topical). That big picture evolves as the series progresses because the details of each passage finesse your understanding of the book as a whole. But you need some sense of the overall picture before you can begin to make sense of the detail. It’s this iterative cycle that makes preaching through a book so exciting.

Four or five weeks before I’m preaching I’ll look at the passage for about an hour. The aim is to get the questions, issues and application bubbling around in my mind over the coming weeks.

I do the bulk of the preparation usually about a week in advance. That’s partly because I need to get a draft off to the people who are preparing the Sunday gathering and the people preparing for our children’s groups.

I was once told by a builder that plasterers spend a lot of time apparently doing nothing, just sizing up a wall. And then they leap into a whirl of activity and plaster the wall quite quickly. Increasingly, I think, this describes how I prepare my sermons. I can spend a lot of time apparently doing nothing (or just throwing a ball around the study). What I’m actually doing is meditating on the text. And then an idea will grab me and I’ll rush over to my computer and the heart of the sermon can be done quite quickly. A lot of editing follows, but the main ideas are done. It didn’t used to be like this. As a younger preacher (and I think this is a good model for new preachers) I followed a template much more. So sermons were built up piece by piece.

I always leave the final edit to the Sunday morning. I change wording during this edit, but its primary purpose is to take out any material that’s not absolutely necessary. I leave it until Sunday morning so the material is fresh in my mind when I deliver it a couple of hours later.

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

I wouldn’t want to be dogmatic about having one major theme. There’s a danger that we try to squeeze everyone into one mould. Different preachers have different styles. That said, I think one of the most common mistakes of new preachers is trying to squeeze too much into their sermons. I suspect this metaphor is now out of date, but I still think about the ‘cutting room floor’. In the old days movie editors used to literally cut out sections of tape and glue the other pieces back together to create the final movie. It meant most of the footage ended up on the cutting room floor. Preachers need a similar process in which they cut out anything that doesn’t need to be there. That means a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor! The key issue is this. The aim of a sermon is not to impart as much information as you can to the hearers. The aim of the sermon is to capture their affections for Christ and that aim should shape everything in the sermon.

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

I think empathy, passion and authority (or conviction) are all important.

It’s important to empathise with the congregation. Life is hard. Following Christ can be hard. The word of God can sound weird. If you never acknowledge this then your hearers will wonder what planet you’re on. We need to show how the text connects with real life. I learnt this from David Powlison who often spends a long time describing a problem. As a result, when he brings the word to bear on that issue, it comes with real power.

I also think you need to show passion. I don’t mean some kind of affected emotionalism. But you need to show people that the word has impacted your heart. I often tell new preachers that you should meditate on the passage until it moves your heart (whether that is joy, fear, sorrow, conviction or excitement). Your aim then is to preach it so the passage evokes a similar response in your hearers.

We want our preaching to come with authority. Clearly that comes primarily from the word itself and from the Spirit. But I think we should preach with conviction. I’m not sharing my opinions or my reflections with you. I’m declaring a word from God.

I realised a few years ago that often when I stood up to preach I thought my sermon was about to be one of the best sermons in the history of the church! Yet when I read through old sermons a few months later it was agony to think that I’d inflicted this rubbish on my poor congregation. I decided this combination of attitudes is actually quite healthy as long as you hold both together. I realised my enthusiasm for my sermon was actually enthusiasm for the passage. The word of God had gripped me and I was excited about sharing its message with the congregation. That allowed me to preach with conviction. But remembering my retrospective assessment of my sermons would prevent me ever growing too proud!

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

I use full text with key words highlighted in bold. I print my text on A5 so it sits in my Bible as I preach. Over the last couple of years I’ve weaned myself of a lectern. I now prefer to stand with my Bible in one hand with my notes inside. I think this helps me have a more conversational feel with the congregation.

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

There are some technical issues (like trying to cover too much, not including application or making the process of understanding the Bible seem so esoteric that people think its beyond them). Obviously it’s also vital to always preach the gospel and always preach Christ. We must never leave people feeling condemned because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

But the greatest dangers are with our own hearts. One danger is finding identity in preaching. We can preach justification by faith even as we practice justification by preaching! A good sign that something is wrong is when your mood is affected by how your preaching went the day before or when criticism makes you despondent.

Another big danger is neglecting the important of the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit who speaks God’s word into people’s hearts and uses it to bring conviction, life, love, change and so on. So we need to preach in conscious dependence on the Spirit. I’ve started using the language of the Spirit speaking through the word and through the sermon to highlight this for myself and for my congregation.

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

I share the preaching with a small team so I preach about once every two weeks. At the moment that feels about right. Part of me would love to preach more, but I think that once every two weeks gives me time to prepare properly for each sermon. If I’m doing the bulk of a series then I try to get ahead in my preparation. I’ll often have a basic draft of each sermon done before the series starts especially if it’s a topical series.

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

In my younger days I basically followed the template in John Chapman’s Setting Hearts on Fire until I gradually found my own style. Tim Keller’s lectures on Preaching to the Heart (Ockenga Institute) were a great help. And David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes really helped make links between truth and life. I can remember thinking, ‘This book isn’t on preaching, but it’s going to transform how I preach.’

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

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=4e632b01dd&view=att&th=13b0342c3e5a5912&attid=0.1.7&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_LpRd4jnjMa7JTWnIuN3rr&sadet=1352972890301&sads=0ZwxlEtLOYQtMc9mNocIQ5ir3ggWe’ve done a variety of things over the years. We used to have a ‘teachers group’ in which teachers and potential teachers would study a passage together a couple of weeks in advance. This helped to model good hermeneutics as well proving a fruitful way of engaging with the text. I’ll go through a sermon with a new preacher before they preach it. We also give feedback afterwards though I’m wary of doing this in a systematic way because I need to submit myself to the word as it’s preached rather than critiquing the methodology of the preacher. We’re planning to provide regular training and to this end one of my tasks for next year is to write a workbook on Gospel-Centred Preaching for the Gospel-Centred series we’re doing with the Good Book Company. We also put our leaders through Porterbrook Learning and Porterbrook Seminary.