My Approach to Preaching

A view from the Port Lincoln FPC pulpit. [Photo: June 15, 2008]
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of your church? Is it the style of worship, the music, preaching on current social issues, or something else?

There are many elements which make up a healthy, biblical church, but our biggest concern should always be primarily focused upon the pulpit. The style of preaching, messages preached, and issues addressed from the pulpit, will nearly always form the mould of the other aspects of the church.

My Preaching

Some of you may have noticed, since I’ve arrived in Australia and taken up a weekly pulpit ministry, I have been preaching sequentially. That is, I have been doing studies that move through a book or large section of the Bible. The first series I started almost as soon as I landed in Australia. I had a burden to preach through 1 John long before I arrived here. It took twenty messages for me to get through it, although if I really wanted it could have gone on longer. The reason I didn’t, is that 1 John is repetitive in places, and I don’t possess all the knowledge required to go deeper as someone trained may be able to do.

The second was in the life of Joseph, a study which we’re still in the middle of, and will probably make up around (I’m guessing) thirty messages.

Now, I’ve started a third series. This time, as you’re aware by now, in Philippians, and I’ve no idea how long it will take. There’s so much in it.

What’s My Point?

I don’t know why God placed in my heart before I came here, a desire to do a series of studies in 1 John. However, as I started to go through the book, it wasn’t long before the benefit of such a practice became apparent. I might be wrong, but to me it seems to be the biblical pattern, and the right way to preach. With expository preaching that moves sequentially through a book, you are forced to deal with everything in the Bible in context, and try to bring out truths that, without diligent study, the congregation will not see.

Since I’ve arrived here, I’ve preached near a dozen topical messages. That is, messages where I decide on a topic, or a text, break it up into sections, search through the scriptures for other references to the topic, and build the message upon what I find. It has its place, but more and more, I think I should do it as little as possible. It just seems to me that it gives a shallow hit to the hearers, whereas week by week exposition of the Scriptures from the same book builds the people up gradually, but grounds them in their faith. They get to know the book, see God’s purpose in the book, see Christ in the book, cover the doctrines the Holy Spirit covers in the book, and get a better grasp of its overall message, rather than a snippet which may be distorted and pulled out of context just to fit the preacher’s fancy.

John MacArthur is a well known expository preacher, and although I disagree with him on a number of things, I like what he said,

“Slower is better than faster. Why? Because deeper is better than shallower. Because thorough is better than superficial.”

His point is, one (specifically a preacher) ought to go through the Scriptures slowly, diligently, purposefully, and systematically, to seek the deep and profound treasures even in the simplest of texts.

Why Did The Reformers Have Such An Impact?

John Calvin preached through book after book for years on end. He was so diligent in this practice, that it is said he almost entirely ignored Christmas and Easter periods in his selection of texts during those times. Each Sunday he would nearly always preach from the New Testament, and weekdays in the Old Testament. As an example of his pace, he spent almost five years in Acts, 186 messages on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 43 in Galatians, 48 in Ephesians.

His studies in the OT included 159 sermons in Job, 200 in Deuteronomy, 353 in Isaiah, and 153 in Genesis, and more.
This reflected the diligence to Scripture and preaching which turned the Church around from a period of darkness into light, understanding, and ultimately, power. If one preaches almost entirely topically, he can easily avoid contradicting himself, even if he’s preaching error. If you preach through the Scriptures consistently, you will have to deal with passages you don’t like that much, or that you have never considered.

Our Need For Revival

There’s no doubt about it. Australia, Europe, and America need a move of God. Lasting moves of the Spirit always arise from a return to biblical preaching. Preaching through the Scriptures, uplifting the supremacy of Christ, the holiness of God, and the utter depravity of man is needed today; coupled with a return to the closet to meet face-to-face with God in order to gain “a knowledge of the holy” (Prov 9:10).

Please pray for me. I’m young and ignorant, but I know God delights in using the most pathetic of His creatures, for in doing so, He will get the glory. Will you please daily ask God to pour out grace upon me? Thank you!