Aspiring Preachers Listen Up

The Doctor has some wise words:

Lastly, and only lastly, Homiletics. This to me is almost an abomination. There are books bearing such titles as The Craft of Sermon Construction, and The Craft of Sermon Illustration. That is, to me, prostitution. Homiletics just comes in, but no more.

What about preaching as such, the act of preaching of which I have spoken? There is only one thing to say about this; it cannot be taught. That is impossible. Preachers are born not made. This is an absolute. You will never teach a man to be a preacher if he is not already one. All your books such as The A.B.C. of Preaching, or Preaching Made Easy should be thrown into the fire as soon as possible. But if a man is born a preacher you can help him a little-but not much. He can perhaps be improved a little here and there.

How can that be done? Here I am probably going to be somewhat controversial. I would say: Not in a sermon class, not by having a student preach a sermon to other students who then proceed to criticise matter and manner. I would prohibit that. Why? Because the sermon in such circumstances is being preached with a wrong object in view; and the people who are listening to it are listening in a wrong way. The message of the Bible should never be listened to in that way. It is always the Word of God, and no one should ever listen to it except in a spirit of reverence and godly expectation of receiving a message.

When you come to further modern refinements of that such as television video-tapes so that a man may subsequently see his own gestures and so on-this to me is reprehensible in the extreme. The same applies to instruction in ‘pulpit deportment’ as it is called, or ‘television  deportment’. There is only one word for all this; it is sheer prostitution, it is instruction in the art of the prostitute. The preachers must always be natural and un-self conscious; and if in your training  you tend to make him become self-conscious of his hands, or what he does with his head, or anything else, you are doing him great harm. It should not be done, it should be prohibited! You cannot teach a preacher in these ways; and I feel that to attempt to do so is an injustice to the Word of God.

What then should the young preacher do? Let him listen to other preachers, the best and most experienced. He will learn a lot from them, negatively and positively. He will learn what not to do, and learn a great deal of what he should do. Listen to preachers! Also read sermons. But make sure they were published before 1900!*

Soli Deo Gloria!

For His Glory,

*D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Gran Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1972), 118-120


About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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