Are you growing in your preaching?

My fellow contributor asked some great questions in regard to my previous post. Since what I wanted to say was longer than a comment I have provided it hear as a follow-up. Thanks Caleb for the great questions. In short, the issue is how can a young preacher maintain pulpit cred and grow in his skills and calling. I think we should be careful to avoid a one-size-addresses-all problems approach. As I think Caleb indicated in his comment there are a number of solutions to the pastor getting help with his preaching. Here are a few bullet thoughts:

1. Study preaching. Read a few books on preaching every year and take away a few things to work on from each resource. Read and listen to good preachers. Challenge yourself to preach different genres of Scripture. I am biased toward preaching narrative at the moment but OT and NT narrative will open up a world of study and color.

2. Find one or two reliable/trustworthy sources of feedback in your congregation. I know there are exceptions but most churches will have at least a couple of men who know good preaching and can provide loving feedback. This can also double as a discipleship opportunity so that they are trained to sharpen their hearing as well. I have many that I discuss my preaching with but I have two men that I know will tell me I was terrible and at the same time help me.

3. If #2 is not a possibility then form a work group with a couple of local pastors. Exchange sermon audio or video and provide feedback to each other. If there is no one in your area then look to fellow preachers in your seminary network or like-minded pastors in another state.

4. Continue your education. Go to conferences with break-out sessions on preaching (Shepherd’s Conference, Simeon Trust, etc.). If you are able and you have an M.Div pursue a D.Min in preaching (Master’s and Southern Seminary both have excellent D.Min in expository preaching). These programs will help to refine your skills and expose you to various nuances of preaching that are easily forgotten or missed.

5. Self-evaluation. Watch yourself on video tape. Watch three sermons in a row so that you are not only watching a “favorite.” Watch them multiple times and focus your critique on something different each time. For extra measure, have someone you trust watch them and provide feedback then take the person to lunch for sitting through your sermons and helping you.

6. Read the Bible a lot! Read and read and read your Bible, wear it out, and sit for lengthy periods of time reading chapter after chapter. I’m convinced that the deeper your well becomes the more compelling your preaching. This is why solid preachers who have been at it for twenty years or more who have also established good habits of Bible reading are likely to be excellent expositors. If you are too busy as a full-time pastor to read your Bible for even hours at a time then you are too busy and you are headed for trouble. Turn back now and establish good habits. Do whatever you have to do to deepen your knowledge of Scripture.

7. Turn off Facebook, your phone, Twitter, email, and every other electro-disturbance that hampers your preparation. Train yourself to focus without feeling the need to check some frivolous “update” that adds nothing to the process.

8. If you do have time to read blogs, etc. then explore Expository Thoughts. There are hundreds of essays and ideas here that are given to motivate, challenge, and inspire expositors. Also see Peter Mead’s Biblical Preaching blog which is an excellent blog on the nuts and bolts of preaching.

9. Worship Jesus. If you are daily spending time reading about, praying to, fellowshipping around, meditating on, and striving to be holy like Jesus then your preaching will reflect your walk with Him. It will not be necessary to embrace a form of preaching that works Jesus into your message but the fingerprint of the Messiah will be evident on everything you say.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. As a homiletics student terrified of mishandling the Word of God and of not presenting it well, I really appreciate this post. I am particularly struck by the exhortation to spend lots and lots of time in God’s Word.

  2. Posted by James Sizemore on November 3, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    This is very good. Having been through seminary & reading numerous books…you can never get away from the basics. I was just talking to another pastor the other day, about how preaching is a lost art. Advertising and multimedia has robbed many pastor’s of the nuts & bolts needed to proclaim the Word effectively.

  3. Paul,

    I was hoping my short and honest response might prompt a fuller treatment. This posting is helpful on many levels.

    Thanks

  4. As i listen to John MacArthur and John Piper (early years and latter years) 3 observations stick out in my mind.

    1. As they matured in their walks with Jesus and in their knowledge of the Word their preaching also matured.

    2. Over the years the content of their sermons remained pretty much the same (rock solid) but their delivery greatly improved (or perhaps better said it became more compelling).

    3. I think every public speaker (preachers included) improves with experience. When i served as an Ast. Pastor for 3 years preaching opportunities were not as common as i would have liked but back then i was not the Senior Teaching Pastor and i had to learn to embrace my role to the glory of God. One can not be a faithful ast. pastor if he is consumed with being the main preaching pastor. That was a lesson i did not learn in seminary. With that said, experience is one of the most valuable teachers. If you do all or most of the things Paul listed in this post you will grow as a preacher. Don’t give up and press on brothers!

    I think John Piper is one of the most powerful preachers alive today. John MacArthur is my favorite Bible expositor and my favorite messages of his come from the 1980’s. During those years he was preaching from Matthew during the morning hour and Romans during the evening hour. 2 powerful sermons each and every Sunday, week after week after week; are you kidding me?

  5. Posted by Scott Christensen on November 3, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    These are convicting yet helpful thoughts Paul. If most pastors are like me, they guard their privelege to preach the word of God as a sacred task. That is good, but the down-side is they often guard themselves from criticism. Afterall, we went to 4 years of seminary to study how to do this stuff so that makes us experts and who are others to tell us we’re not very good? Since our whole livelihood is wrapped up in what we do for an hour on Sunday morning we don’t want to entertain the idea that we are bad at it or need to improve. It often scares me to death to think of what others think of my preaching, yet it is so necessary to humble ourselves if we are going to be truly effective in the task God has entrusted us with. Good word, Paul (and Caleb).

  6. Posted by Carlos Kengla on November 7, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Thought this also gives another bullet to the points. Though I am not a preacher, I thoroughly appreciate good expository preaching.
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2009/10/19/preacher-onlys-arent-good-preachers/

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