The Key to Fervent Preaching

July 11, 2013

One thing I wrestle with as a homiletics teacher is how to instill fervency or passion in my students as they preach.

I have discovered that I can encourage it and try to exemplify it, but in the end fervency comes from deep down in the soul. There is no simple formula or procedure to follow. Genuine fervency cannot be manufactured or worked up. It flows out of belief and conviction that what I’m saying is absolutely true and must be embraced. It comes from knowing that there is significance and weight to what I’m saying. It comes from knowing that I speak for someone who has absolute authority.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:9,

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

Leon Morris points out that the verb translated “proclaimed” here underscores the divine origin and character of the message.

The verb preached (ekēryxamen) denotes the action of a herald, who, of course, said what was given him to say. His work was to pass on a message, not to produce some high-flown oration elaborately adorned with ear-tickling phraseology, nor even to give a simple message to meet the need as he saw it. The fact that this is a favourite way of referring to the activity of the Christian preacher in the New Testament puts stress on the divine nature of the message. (1 and 2 Thessalonians: An Introduction and Commentary, 59)

So what does this mean for us as preachers?

The gospel preacher is not at liberty to substitute his view of the need of the moment for the God-given message of the cross. This is underlined by the reference to the gospel of God, an expression we have met in verses 2, 8 . . . . This deep-seated certainty that he was entrusted with a message of divine, not human, origin gave a note of urgency and conviction to all that Paul did and said. The conviction that the gospel is of God is an important factor in fervent and effectual preaching, whether in the apostolic age or any other. (ibid., emphasis mine)

Here are a few takeaways as we think about our message and manner of communication:

  1. When we think of ourselves as “preachers,” we ought to be reminded of our obligation to herald God’s message and not our own.
  2. Fervency and power in preaching come from being absolutely convinced that the gospel is of divine origin.

Question: What are some other factors that contribute to fervency in preaching?

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.

One response to The Key to Fervent Preaching

  1. How would you differentiate “preaching fervently” from “preaching loudly”? How can someone, who in general is very soft-spoken and unable to raise or modulate his voice, preach fervently?