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