Archives For Delivery

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?

Preaching is more than regurgitating your favorite exegetical commentary, recasting the sermons of your favorite preachers, or reshaping notes from one of your favorite seminary classes. It is bringing the transforming truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ from a passage that has been properly understood, cogently and practically applied, and delivered with the engaging tenderness and passion of a person who has been broken and restored by the very truths he now stands to communicate. You simply cannot do this without proper preparation, meditation, confession, and worship.

~ Paul Tripp

Preaching Is More than Regurgitation

There’s a wedding that should be taking place in every church on every Sunday from every pulpit. It’s the wedding of biblical content and passionate delivery.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency for only one party to show up for the preaching event.

  1. Biblical content only sermons. On the one hand, there are preachers who are thoroughly biblical but painfully boring.
  2. Passionate delivery only sermons. On the other hand, there are preachers who are wonderfully engaging but woefully unbiblical (or nonbiblical).

In a recent interview with Preaching Today, Hershael York rightly argues that the two should be married not separated.

Both extremes, of course, need to be addressed, but let me target those who are gulity of preaching “biblical content only sermons” and who don’t put much stock into delivery concerns.

Now I will frankly admit that I am sympathetic to this tendency, because whatever else a preacher does he must say what God said. However, a commitment to biblical exposition and biblical faithfulness in what is said need not exclude a concern for how it is said.

As York reminds us,

Of course the text is primary, but, frankly, no matter how well you know the text, if you’re putting people to sleep, they’re not hearing it anyway.

Russell Moore puts it this way:

Delivery matters because you can falsify a statement simply by the way you say it. You can confuse people with your arguments by the way you argue. Boring preaching can actually enable your listeners to remain in the very illusions you’re trying to destroy. Working on your delivery is not about being a peddler of the Word of God; it’s about removing the distraction that comes from boring preachers. Sometimes, when we hear Paul’s warning about people with itching ears who “will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2 Tim 4:3) we assume that they must be piling up really skillful orators. So, we conclude, it must be more spiritual to come to the pulpit and say, “Well, here we are continuing our 35th week in our series of Philippians chapter one, verse two, part A. Here it is, let’s move on through this.” No! . . .

If you’re charged with adrenaline for the gospel, and with compassion for people held captive by the principalities and powers, and if you know that the voice of Jesus is what drives back the illusions and powers of satanic darkness, and that people hear the voice of Jesus when a text of Scripture is explained clearly, then you can’t help preach with a Galilean accent. (“This Is War: Expository Exorcism,” a chapter in A Guide to Expository Ministry, 36, emphasis mine)

So I invite you to a very important wedding–the wedding of “solid exegesis with passionate delivery.”