My book “Excellence in Preaching. Learning from the Best” has now been published. IVP have done a great job and I am most grateful that the 12 preachers I examine have been gracious and cooperative in allowing me to write about them.
What have I learnt as a result? What produces excellenet preaching? In an attempt to distill my thoughts it includes the following:-
1) A deep love for the Lord, dependence on the Holy Spirit and sustained immersion in Scripture. Preaching is a deeply spiritual task and the godliness of the preacher shines through whether they intend it or not!
2) A certain grasp of what makes for good communication. Sermons need a “Big Idea” (or “Homiletical theme”) and preachers need to practice clear, concise, relevant and engaging communication.
3) The third thing preachers need to learn is what motivated the writing of “Excellence in Preaching”, namely that we learn much from preaching by listening to good preachers. Apart from the obvious fact that preachers need to hear God’s word explained and applied for their own spiritual health, the language of mentoring and modelling is important here. My prayer and hope is that good preachers will notice and appreciate the things good preachers do: not to mimic but rather to observe and learn.
I have learnt so much from Dick Lucas’ preaching: not from his teaching about preaching but from him doing it! His style is quite unique, with a delightful self-deprecating and dry sense of humour. But mainly – and this surely is the best test of preaching – there are so many passages (mainly from Mark’s Gospel) where I cannot read them without hearing Dick’s voice in my head. He regularly taught me things which I had not known before, and once I had learnt them I could never forgot the lessons.
“Excellence in Preaching” will be launched at Wycliffe Hall Oxford at 5pm on Thursday 17th November, but if you can’t wait it is available online in England now! (see http://www.ivpbooks.com/9781844745197 the book will be published in the USA at the end of the yearhttp://www.amazon.com/Excellence-Preaching-Studying-Leading-Preachers/dp/0830838155)