January 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm #4800Jack Exum JrParticipant
Jessee P. Sewel back in 1957 during his last series of public lessons capped off his lessons with the following statement.
“Who is a Gospel preacher? He is a man, but he is a man redeemed by grace through faith, standing in Christ’s stead, under His authority, and by His command, proclaiming His Gospel, making it plain, strong, and urgent in such a way that responsible man can believe it, and accept it unto life, or reject it unto death.”
One important life lesson I have learned over the years is this… preaching is strengthened by the life which lies behind it, or weakened by the same. Lessons learned the hard way, are still lessons learned. No preacher can honestly say that he lives up to everything he preaches. The message is always better than the messenger, but the man of God will always be struggling with himself to bring his life into compliance with the life and example of the Master, as all Christians should. He is (or should be) the first to admit the need for and dependence on God’s amazing grace.
Preaching must (and we emphasize) MUST be several things:
1. “PLAIN!” “The plainest thing is the mainest thing.” Big 10 cylinder words may be impressive, but unless your audience is composed of those who are degreed, your message will be lost. Jesus is the example of being “plain spoken.” One may not know New Testament Greek or Old Testament Hebrew, but he can read plain English. Even still there is a need for balance in teaching the Word. Without this, one will ultimately fall into one extreme or another and loose the ‘clarity’ which preaching demands. Now, I must admit that I do admire those who have devoted themselves to learning Biblical language, and gained degrees, and there is nothing wrong with this. Such scholarship is valuable and needful, however, for the most part those who listen to the message are looking, longing for something they can use for everyday life. “Methods may change, but principles do not.” Yet principles found in Scriptures are like rubber bands and can be applied to a variety of situations, cultures, and times. Keep it PLAIN. Jesus was PLAIN spoken. His examples and illustrations and stories were PLAIN, and forced people to think, were told to require some kind of response. Lessons which don’t make people think, will lose attention to say the least. Lessons which are so shallow that there is no challenge or call to change, will lose attendance. Lessons which are generally “above people’s hea”ds” leave them wondering, “What is he saying?”
Bottom line, KEEP IT PLAIN!
2.) “STRONG!” I don’t think this calls for more vocal volume, as much as it calls for real heart-felt conviction, “sound doctrine,” and down to earth principles. Somehow people know when a preacher is speaking from deep conviction or just putting on a show. I realize the concern for the paycheck, and yet, somehow we have to get beyond the fear of loosing the paycheck. The idea of “strong,” carries with it the idea of fairness and unbiased yet balanced Biblical preaching. Using the pulpit to brow beat one person in the audience is unwise and shallow preaching. (Remember Matthew 18 if you have a problem with a brother… go to them privately.) Speaking from one’s “lack of fore-thought” leads to problems as well. Spend time in prayer, spend time in study of God’s word, and look for the principles which can be applied to everyday life. Make the sermon “real.” Sermons composed of history only, are helpful to history buffs, but without principles which apply to life the “rubber never meets the road.” People go away feeling empty.
Bottom line: Grab all the education you can, for it will or should bless your studies, and make them richer… but when you stand before the people of God, keep your lessons plain, simple, and strong. If you can do this while going “deep” people will grow with you.
3. “URGENT” Let there be an urgency about preaching. Instead of preaching because one has to because it’s your “job,” preach because you have to because if you don’t you’ll “bust.” Preach from the over-flow, and let God loose to work and speak. Use illustrations, use stories, just don’t go over-board or take advantage of your audience. Dad had a brilliant idea… His lesson was “THE EMPTY COFFIN,” the point of the lesson, “It’s not too late!” Good theme, good lesson, with lot’s of urgency. He brought a REAL COFFIN into the building and place it right where the Lord’s table usually is situated. The coffin was open, and empty (thankfully.) People were shocked, and impacted. He was fired.
Bottom line: Make your lessons urgent, and illustrate appropriately, use stories that touch the heart, make your closing as powerful as the main body of the lesson (not just a canned invitation).
Grow in grace brethren!
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