The Story Behind Christ-Centered Preaching

August 11, 2016

Have you ever been deeply disappointed with your own preaching, felt like a failure, and considered leaving the ministry?

Bryan Chapell did, and in a recent Faithlife Today interview, Chapell relates how his sense of failure as a preacher led him to write his book Christ-Centered Preaching.

I was first introduced to Christ-Centered Preaching in a seminary class called Expository Sermon Preparation. To be honest my initial impression was that the book was too formulaic. I didn’t care for the recommended (or required, as some of us thought) indicative-imperative structure of the homiletical idea (“Because this is true, you must respond in this way.”), and I was not convinced that the Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) was a legitimate or necessary concept.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and I now have a different perspective on the book. I have come through experience (both in preaching and in teaching preaching) to buy in to many of the concepts presented in Chapell’s book. Each year I have my advanced homiletics class read chapters 10 and 11 on the theology of Christ-centered messages. We have some great in-class discussions, and I love seeing the lights come on for my students as they realize that preaching Christ doesn’t mean forcing Jesus into every text.

Here’s how Chapell put it, and in my opinion, this has to be one of the most important sentences in the entire book:

Christ-centered preaching rightly understood does not seek to discover where Christ is mentioned in every text but to disclose where every text stands in relation to Christ. (emphasis mine)

Others have since written on this subject and provided valuable and additional light on what it means to preach Christ, but let me encourage you to read those two chapters if you haven’t (or haven’t in a while). And why don’t you take five minutes to listen to Chapell share the story behind one of the most-used books on preaching. You will be reminded that the heroes of the Bible are often a mess, but that God in his grace still uses them. And he can use you and me too.

Kerry McGonigal

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In Adam by birth but in Christ by grace. That's my story. Husband to one and father of three. Pastor, homiletics teacher, and passionate proponent of expository preaching. If you like what you've read and want to be notified of future posts, take a second and subscribe via RSS or email (on the right sidebar). Opinions expressed here are my own.

2 responses to The Story Behind Christ-Centered Preaching

  1. Dr. McGonigal,

    I would be interested to here your response to Dr. Michael J. Kruger’s remarks about Christ-Centered Preaching, specifically his criticism of Christ-Centered Preaching’s emphasis on not preaching Be messages. Dr. Kruger makes his critical remarks in his lecture entitled “James: Structure and Use of the Law” beginning at minute 41:30. Here is a link to the lecture in ITunes. I listened to the lecture on RTS’s mobile app. To summarize Dr. Kruger, he says James’ example of exhorting his readers to “be like Elijah” raises questions to Christ-Centered Preaching’s rejection of “Be” messages.

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/9-james-structure-use-law/id600863753?i=1000167016735&mt=2

    • Hey, great question, John. Let me listen to Kruger’s lecture and get back with you. I may actually write a blog post addressing this particular issue in the near future. Thanks for dropping by and for contributing to the conversation. God bless.