A few years ago, I was enjoying dinner with David Helm, author of Expositional Preaching and the founder of The Charles Simeon Trust, probably the best preacher training ministry out there. He mentioned that he was concerned about the growing popularity of gospel-centered preaching.
What?! Why? Isn’t gospel-centered preaching a good thing?
He answered, “Because the tail is going to start wagging the dog.” Helm was worried that young preachers would get lazy, not pay close attention to their texts, and move toward Christ too quickly. They wouldn’t do careful exegetical work; or preach the point of their particular texts; or take canonically responsible ways of moving toward the gospel. To put it another way, they would allegorize.
Of course, that’s not the only problem with preaching out there. Some preachers don’t preach the gospel at all. Others fail to apply the text to their whole church. And still others fail to respect the rules of their particular genre, have bad biblical theology, or preach without exemplars. For all this start with Colton Colter’s overview of preaching today. He listened to nearly 20 hours of preaching from America’s biggest evangelical churches, and then wrote about what he heard. It’s both discouraging and important. Then look at the articles by Robert Kinney, Ed Moore, Keith Collier, Jason Hood, and Sam Emadi.
We’ve taken the photographic negative (remember those?) approach to preaching genres—“How Not to Preach…”—by focusing on mistakes that seem pretty common among preachers today. Our goal is not to be overly critical, but to offer a guide for identifying the pitfalls any of us might fall into unawares.
The 9Marks Journal concludes with some constructive advice on preaching well, including a dense but absolutely crucial piece by David Schrock as well as typically helpful and wise articles by Mark Vroegop, Aaron Menikoff, Matt Haste, and Andy Prime. Also, don’t miss the encouraging reflections on several well-known preaching texts by Ligon Duncan, Tim Cantrell, and Ryan Fullerton.
Brother pastors, we must give careful attention to our preaching. God’s preached Word, working through God’s Spirit, is God’s primary instrument for growing God’s church. In fact, God’s Word is the most powerful force in the universe. God created the universe through his Word, and he is recreating it through his Word (Gen. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:6).
God grows us as individuals and as local churches through our ears. That’s why the apostles in Jerusalem asked others to care for the needs of the widows and address the unity problem in the church—two crucial matters! They knew they had to attend to the ministry of the Word and prayer.
If you’re the main preaching pastor in your church, do your priorities match theirs?
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View the 9Marks Journal here.