My Philosophy of Preaching

June 27, 2013

Have you ever taken the time to write down your personal philosophy of preaching? It’s an extremely revealing and clarifying exercise.

Here’s what I did. I sat down and tried to answer questions like “What do I believe most deeply about the nature and practice of preaching?” “What do I want to embody in my own preaching?” and “What am I most passionate about conveying to the next generation of preachers?”

Here’s what surfaced for me after some reflection.

  1. Preaching should be biblical. The Bible should be given prominence in our preaching. That means the sum and substance of our preaching must come from the Bible because the Bible comes from God, and any messenger of God is obligated to speak the speech of God.
  2. Preaching should be contextualSince no text exists without a context, it is imperative that any text read, quoted, referenced, or explained in a sermon be employed in a manner that is consistent with its historical, cultural, theological, and literary context.
  3. Preaching should be expositional. I use the word “expositional” here to refer to the elucidation of Scripture not to a particular form of sermon. Preachers should endeavor to unfold the meaning of Scripture through explanation that is careful, clear, and engaging.
  4. Preaching should be doxologicalThe chief end of preaching is the glory of God. The preacher should seek to convey the glory of God both in the manner in which he preaches and in the message itself. Preaching should exhibit a healthy and balanced interplay of doxology, theology, and morality.
  5. Preaching should be evangelicalThe gospel should be presented as the basis for eternal life and for the Christian life. It is for unbelievers and believers alike. Any ethical imperative should be rooted in a gospel indicative.
  6. Preaching should be ChristocentricalPreaching the word necessarily means preaching “the Word”–Jesus. Each sermon should endeavor to some extent and in some way to show how the text or topic relates to the Centerpiece of redemptive history.
  7. Preaching should be pastoralThe church is the flock of God. The preacher must feed it truth in a gentle, loving way and with genuine concern for its spiritual growth and long-term stability.
  8. Preaching should be incarnationalNeed it be said again?–preaching is “truth through personality.” Though hard to quantify, the preacher’s personal life and character as well as the listener’s perception of him play an extremely important part in the drama of preaching.
  9. Preaching should be spiritual. Preaching is designed to be a spiritual enterprise–a Spirit-taught, Spirit-empowered man preaching from the Spirit-inspired scriptures to Spirit-enlightened listeners.
  10. Preaching should be transformational. Preaching should go after the heart not just the head. The ultimate purpose of preaching is not to impart information but to effect transformation into the likeness of Jesus to the glory of God.

These 10 are in no way exhaustive. However, I think they capture the heart of my heart about preaching. At some point I would like to expand on each one in a separate post. But for now they serve as an outline of what I hold to most dearly.

If you haven’t gone through this exercise yet, I would encourage you to give it a try. Our philosophy of preaching informs and directs our practice of preaching. So what core beliefs govern what you do when you preach God’s Word?

Questions: Have you developed your own philosophy of preaching? Feel free to include it (or link to it) in the comments. Do you have any suggestions for improving mine? Is there anything I’m overlooking? Any need for clarification? 

Kerry McGonigal

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

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.

8 responses to My Philosophy of Preaching

  1. Great writing, thanks!!

    • E.M. Forster once said: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.” That’s always how I feel about writing. Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment.

  2. Really Appreciate this article Mr. McGonigal. I’m definitely blessed to have had you as a homiletics teacher, and to see that you have implemented your philosophy of preaching to your students. I think some preachers tend to shy away from expositional, and contextual preaching that is all centered around Christ, which you have stated above. Thanks for the insight!

    • Thanks, Nathan. I’ve had some pretty good students over the years. 🙂 Seriously, very few things bring me greater joy than to hear one of my students preach Christ with passion, clarity, and biblical integrity. God bless, my friend.

  3. Thanks Kerry. I am glad to see that you are posting these ideas online and I enjoyed reading your philosophy of preaching. I should probably attempt to write out my own ideas as well. I concur with all your ideas above. If there is one thing that I would add it would be something about the way that expositional preaching can teach others how to properly exegete the text (i. e. study their Bibles)! I don’t have a good way to express this idea other than something like–“Preaching is Teaching.” In other words, we teach others how to study the Bible when we preach through a text. Thanks again!

    • I’m right with you on that one, Brent. How about this for the sake of parallelism with my other points: Preaching should be reproducible. In other words, we should teach through the text in such a way that our listeners can follow our hermeneutical steps and then reproduce them on their own. I think this serves as a good check for preachers too: if our listeners can’t see how we arrived at the point we are making (and therefore cannot reproduce it on their own), it calls into question the credibility and viability of that point in the first place. I don’t want people walking away from one of my sermons saying, “Wow. I sure am glad pastor can see all these neat things in the Bible, because I sure can’t.” 🙂 Anyway, helpful feedback, Brent. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your material. I am a pastor teaching and training pastors and new ministers on the subject of homiletics, hermeneutics, and methodical Bible Study. I am going to get them to read your posting. Thanks for sharing and being a blessing to the body of Christ. Be beautifully blessed.

    • Glad to hear it, Jeffrey! Thanks for stopping by and for directing others this way. It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to preach God’s Word and to train others to do the same. Grace to you in your endeavors.