My Preaching Mentors
I love preaching. Aside from its importance in the life and growth of the church, I personally find that it’s one of the most exciting and stimulating things to be engaged in.
I gave my first ‘talk’ about half a lifetime ago (half of my lifetime – that’s 17 years) at a summer mission in Gunnedah and I’ve been passionate about it since. Half a lifetime later, I’m still learning.
Anyways, I got thinking about my biggest influences in preaching. So here they are. I’m grateful to God for each and every one of these men who’ve taught me so much through their example, preaching, writing, and workshopping.
He taught me a formula of preaching that really does produce “better than average sermons” every single time. His stuff from Setting Hearts on Fire was foundational: especially for a rookie preacher. And it was Chappo who famously taught us that the first 50 years are the hardest. I’ve got another 33 to go (that’s an entire lifetime for me!).
I did my MTS apprenticeship with Dominic. He put Chappo’s stuff into practice for me and set a model of how it worked itself out in actual sermons. He’s a great communicator of the gospel and I’m grateful for how he helped me hone the craft of preaching.
It was hearing Driscoll that freed me up from a certain kind of rigidity I had gotten myself into a few years after College. Sure my sermons were polished, 25 mins, well-illustrated and clear, but they lacked a certain ‘fire’. Driscoll (indirectly) helped me get free from full-notes, begin to think more about application not just as an afterthought, and going for sermons that were more like 40-50 mins rather than 20 (if appropriate).
Tim Keller has been the biggest shaper of my preaching in the last couple of years. He is a good counter-balance to the Driscoll-type stuff I picked up. Also, Keller taught me how to actually go deeper with the hearers by going for heart idols in my application.
So my advice to younger preachers? Make sure you have a good foundation. Go buy and soak up Chappo (or the SMBC preaching manual). Make sure you get lots of practise with a good personal mentor. Make sure you widen your listening. Make sure you hear seasoned preachers with a lot of depth, not just a lot of communication skills.
And finally, make sure you’re comfortable finding your own style. I’m still working that out.