Power in the Pulpit

On January 11, 1989, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office for the thirty-fourth and final time. As he reflected back on the eight years of his presidency, Reagan said something profound: 

In all of that time I won the nickname “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference. It was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things. 

A common temptation for preachers is to focus on style and delivery, or even the kind of rhetorical skills that will impress the listener. But preaching isn’t about style, and the power of preaching isn’t about our ability to communicate. Power in the pulpit comes from the content of the message.  

The way to access this content, of course, is through the hard work of exegesis. Regardless of how dynamic your delivery or breathtaking your rhetoric, if you don’t set forth the divinely intended meaning of God’s Word, your sermon will have no substantial or lasting affect on your listeners. 

So this week, as you prepare for Sunday’s sermon, don’t focus on style—focus on content. Don’t strive to be fancy in your rhetoric, but to be faithful in your interpretation. And don’t aspire to be a great preacher—be a preacher of great things. 

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Matt,

    Some helpful words here. “And don’t aspire to be a great preacher—be a preacher of great things.”

    “Regardless of how dynamic your delivery or breathtaking your rhetoric, if you don’t set forth the divinely intended meaning of God’s Word, your sermon will have no substantial or lasting affect on your listeners.”

    Of course i would imagine all of us would agree that delivery IS important. It simply isn’t the MAIN thing and should not be focused on as the main thing. Many people do confuse great preaching with good communicating. At the same time (it’s my opinion) that if you have great content and poor delivery that’s a problem as well. But that is a post for another time.

    In the mean time let’s work hard at what you proposed.

  2. Amen. I quoted liberally from your post this morning. Peace.

  3. […] from Matt Waymeyer, Milton Stanley has post up that should remind every preacher / teacher that it is not about the […]

  4. […] Expository Thoughts brings us a useful lesson on preaching thanks to the late Ronald Reagan […]

  5. Matt
    This is just what I needed to hear. Thank you for the insightful words. BTW your book on the Millennial Kingdom is a blessing. Michael

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