35 years of Preaching: Q & A

Here is my interview with Pastor Joe Flatt ( http://www.fbccarmel.com )

1. How long have you been involved in an expository preaching ministry?
I started in Yarmouth Iowa in Nov 1971 – was there for only 2+ yrs
2. How would you describe your preaching method and style?
Exegetical exposition
3. What/who were the biggest influences in your life regarding your commitment to biblical exposition?
Dr Ken Brown my undergraduate NT Greek prof at Baptist Bible College.
4. What is the most difficult aspect of verse by verse preaching (done over the long haul) that you’ve personally experienced?
Because of the expositor’s commitment to being faithful to the Scripture and thus being cautious about taking homiletic liberties, I have to work hard at avoiding a wooden final product – this was especially difficult for me in my early years.
5. What is the most rewarding part of an expository ministry?
I marvel that I am actually handling and communicating the very Word of God. I must never take this privilege/responsibility lightly.
5B. What are the advantages you’ve seen as you look back on 32 years of faithful Bible ministry at the same Church?
After a few years people realize that I don’t pull punches when dealing with the Scripture. They observe that I am honest with the text and that I don’t have an agenda that supersedes the Bible. This spills over into shepherding. As people have come to trust me in teaching the Word to them they conclude that they can also trust me in applying the Word to the stuff of their life even if it is unpleasant or they don’t like what they hear. Frankly, I see very little down side to longevity in ministry.
6. Can you describe for us a time when you approached a passage of Scripture and thought, “There’s really not a lot here;” only to find yourself blown away after you finished your exegetical study?
I’m not sure if your question accurately describes any one situation for me. However, I recall hesitating about the prospect of working through Christ’s genealogy in Mat 1 only to discover some gems as a result of wrestling with the text.
7. What was the most difficult text (or portion of Scripture) you’ve ever preached though?
Perhaps Psa 119 because the repetitious nature of the text required creativity without compromising the main message.; or Eccl. only because of the initial challenge in determining how to make sense of the pessimism or cynicism of the book.
8. Describe for us (if you can) the most challenging context in which you’ve been called on to preach?
Generally: without question it is funerals of those whom I believe were not converted but whose family believes the opposite. Specifically: the Sunday after an officer of our church publicly declared that I “was not fit for the pastorate”.
9. What role should the doctrines of grace have in the formation of an expository sermon?
None! This may sound way off for a guy committed to these great doctrines, or it even may sound arrogant. But I truly believe the preacher must go where the text leads him. Somehow I must avoid fitting the text into my theological system. I know none of us are purely objective and I know I am amazed at how often sovereign grace oozes out of passages, but I’d like to think I don’t intentionally twist texts so that I can trumpet TULIP.
10. What has been your favorite book of the Bible to preach through verse by verse? ALL
11. If you could only take one commentary series with you on an extended sabbatical which series of books would you take and why?
Do you know something about a proffered sabbatical I don’t? When I was away on active duty with the Army for a year I chose to take only the Bible Works for Windows software primarily because of portability issues.
12. What’s the most common error you see preachers making in the Church (universal) today?
Without doubt it is buying into the consumer marketing model of ministry. The pressure to be big or relevant is enormous. I personally think this fad is ending however it is presently being replaced by the emergent model which might be even more troublesome. Of course I think the more basic issue is a lack of commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
13. How did your D. Min studies at TEDS contribute to your preaching ministry?
I had been here about 17 or 18 years and realized I was growing a bit stagnant. I had always regretted not following through with my Th.M. plans when I was younger so I wondered if the discipline of formal education might reinvigorate me. It did.
14. What are some of the major preaching lessons you’ve learned along the way?
A few in no particular order might be…Expositional preaching is hard work. The busy pastor, especially the solo guy, must be willing to burn the midnight oil. Expositional preaching, even the good variety, may not always be popular. But so what? Some claimed expositional preaching is not. Good topical preaching is better than bad expositional preaching. Steaks are more palatable cooked and seasoned than raw and bloody. The hearer has responsibilities as well as the preacher.Please God, not men. At the end of he day if you don’t have his vote you loose.
15. What sort of preaching counsel would you give a young preacher who’s just starting out his expository ministry?
To the guy who is committed to expository preaching and already has the basic skills I’d say, “Be yourself. God doesn’t need two of anybody.”
16. Are their any final thoughts or words of wisdom you’d like to add?
Forgive my bluntness but…Hey stupid…It’s the Word, it’s the Word, it’s the Word.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Great interview Caleb, thanks for making this available. We young guys have a lot to learn especially from the “really” old guys like Jerry Wragg.

  2. I agree-

    We should interview Grandpa Jerry one of these days.

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