Many thanks to all who responded to my two questions:
1. Who is your most favorite living preacher(s) to listen to?
2. Can you name what it is that they do that makes you listen?
I polled students and those on my email address book; I also received a number of results via my Facebook page. So far, over 200 people have replied. I do not intend to produce a “most favorite preacher” list (which would be unedifying). Moreover, my survey was intended to give a “gut” reaction rather than a scientific survey.
The purpose of the survey is twofold
- It assists me in writing the book “Things which 12 popular preachers do well”;
- The observations made about preaching and preachers will end up becoming part of a soon-to-be launched website on preaching and preachers.
I shared the following comments with my students recently:-
1. Good preachers manifest Humanity (vulnerability, empathy, warmth), Humour (Story-telling, insight); Holiness (Spirit’s presence, unction, awe, Christ-centered); Heartiness (anointing, urgent, passion). As Jonathan Edwards put it: there is Heat & Light. This is not the totality of things which good preachers do well, but they certainly feature highly in the congregations sense that the preacher has enabled them to meet with the living God through their sermon.
2. Whilst some of the top preachers include, in no particular order (although I now feel like one of X Factor judges!): John Piper, Simon Ponsonby, Mark Driscoll, Rico Tice, Christopher Ash, John Stott, Tim Keller, Dick Lucas (and there were many more!) – I agree with the comment that someone made: “I would put down (…) as my favorite ‘big name’ preacher, but in fact, the faithful week-in-week out preaching of my local Vicar is what nourishes me as a Christian.” I am not interested in starting a guru mentality or personality cult, but rather, I would like us to learn from those who preach well and understand why they connect with us.
3. Finally, I think Tim Keller is spot on when he says to preachers:
If you put in too much time in your study on your sermon you put in too little time being out with people as a shepherd and a leader. Ironically, this will make you a poorer preacher. It is only through doing people-work that you become the preacher you need to be–someone who knows sin, how the heart works, what people’s struggles are, and so on. Pastoral care and leadership (along with private prayer) are to a great degree sermon preparation. More accurately, it is preparing the preacher, not just the sermon. Through pastoral care and leadership you grow from being a Bible commentator into a flesh and blood preacher.
I have much more to say in this topic, so watch this space!
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- with great thankfulness to John Stott
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