Enjoying the Journey
As preachers of God’s truth we must always be growing. Certainly we must continue to mature in our understanding of the truth itself, but we must also develop in our delivery of it. God’s Word is perfect – we are not. The message cannot be improved, but the messenger can!
Young preachers are challenged to work on themselves. Too often, older preachers stop working. We grow complacent and comfortable. We accept our weaknesses and settle into our ruts. Sometimes with the increased frequency of speaking we develop bad habits. (Thank God for wives who remind us of this!)
Simple things will help us all. Go through a book on preaching. Read a sermon regularly. Listen to effective preachers. As painful as it is, listen to yourself occasionally and look for ways to improve your delivery of the greatest message on earth. Practice in private the things you may not be doing well. Never stop growing.
When we stop growing, we begin dying. God’s message of life deserves better than that. We are “ambassadors for Christ” and our King deserves our very best (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Today someone sent me “John Wesley’s Advice On How To Preach.” While some parts of it may be more pertinent to you than others there can be no doubt that John Wesley and his army of preachers touched the world. Wesley believed that preachers should always seek to improve in any way possible. He wrote,
- Always suit your subject to your audience.
- Do not preach more than twice a day during the week or three times on Sunday.
- Choose the plainest texts from the Bible to preach on.
- Take care not to ramble from your text but keep close to it.
- Be sure to begin and end at the time appointed…People imagine the longer a sermon is, the more good it will do. This is a grand mistake…
- Speak justly, readily, clearly…Clearness in particular is necessary…because we are to instruct people of the lowest understanding…Constantly use the most common, little, easy words (so they are pure and proper) which our language affords.
- Beware of clownishness…Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.
- Never scream. Never speak above the natural pitch of your voice.
- Take care to avoid anything awkward or affected either in your gesture or pronunciation.
- Don’t just say ‘I read only the Bible’ in order to preach, read the most useful books, and that regularly and constantly…at least five hours in twenty-four…or return to your trade.
- There is no need to throw away old sermons just because they are old – the best can be reused.
- Never preach without doors when you can with any conveniency preach within.
While I’m not sure I agree with every one of Wesley’s points, I totally agree that we must work on ourselves as well as our sermons! Stagnant men do not preach fresh messages. May God help all of us who have the privilege to minister His Word to continue growing both as Christians and as preachers.