Preaching & Preparation

Preaching & Preparation

An interview here with Mark Driscoll on how he prepares sermons. There’s a Q & A at the end as well which is quite insightful.

Interestingly, he says he gets his application and illustrations ‘on the hoof’ or ‘as the Spirit leads’ (Christian speak). To be fair, he does say that it is not a practice he recommends for other preachers. My slight issue, then, as a leader and a teacher, is how helpful can he be in training and modelling preaching for his young men? On the other hand, I like the fact that he encourages individualism in the pulpit. I remember when I first started out and I felt that I had to be like the preachers from my home church. I tried to copy them but it felt restrictive and uncomfortable. It left me feeling that I didn’t have the ‘gift’ when in fact I just needed to relax and be myself.

I think one of the dangers at Bible college was just ‘churning out exact replicas’. So, we had men who could preach but we terribly restricted in their movements, facial expressions and personal colloquialisms. I remember being told not to move around, not to put my hands on the side of the pulpit and to keep my hands by my side. Now, I agree that some of these things may distract and irritate our listeners, but come on, I just felt like Robocop! Surely people respond to, and the Holy Spirit works through, our personalities (those of us who have one :p). Who wants to see ‘cookie cutter’ preachers, all sounding and looking the same? I love listening to men like Stuart Olyott who looks like a scary headmaster but is a fantastic preacher. I love Dick Lucas, who sounds like a character from a Thomas Hardy novel, but, again, a fantastic preacher. I love listening to a guy called Colin Mcleod ( I bet that’s not how his name is spelt but it doesn’t matter, he won’t read this!) who is a Free Church Minister and a brilliant preacher. Another ‘free boy’ called Derek Lamont I could listen to all day long. All very different men with very different styles and approaches in the pulpit but they all love Jesus, love the Word and communicate it simply and powerfully. We don’t need clones do we? We should celebrate our diversity in the pulpit but instead, in the UK at least, there is something of a snobbery about how to do it ‘correctly’. Pastors sitting around scoring points off one another.

‘Be yourself’ is probably one of the bets pieces of advice to give to young men just starting out. The problem is that they try to copy their pastor because that is what they are used to hearing. That puts pressure on us as preachers to make sure, then, that we have an undertsandable model when we are preaching. It’s OK being all cool and different but what is the point if it is inaccessible? Some young men do sound a bit like me when they first start, as I sounded a bit like my first minister. That’s fine because with maturity and experience they should grow into the role and hopefully their personalities will rise to the fore and the Holy Spirit will begin to use them powerfully.

The problem is when they don’t really have a personality. I’m not sure that is a module offered by any Bible college in the world.