Guest / Limited Access /

Mark Labberton, director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching, Kate Bruce, chaplain and research fellow in preaching at Durham University, and Keith Drury who teaches ministry courses at Indiana Wesleyan, suggest the best ways to improve preaching.

Give Pastors Time Alone

Mark Labberton

Sermons stumble when preachers do not know the God they are proclaiming, the text they are preaching, or the audience they are addressing.

But here's a less obvious reason that sermons falter: when preachers don't know themselves. If John Calvin was right, that we cannot know ourselves for who we really are without knowing God, and that we cannot know God without reconsidering ourselves, then the preacher and the sermon inevitably reflect the presence or absence of this self-knowledge.

Let's consider, for example, how a preacher knows himself in relation to the basic affirmation that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Does the pastor live and preach as one who knows he needs the Savior? If the preacher loses track of the inescapable fact of his own real need to admit sin, mistakes, inadequacies, and inner and outer battles, then his preaching suffers.

The pastor needs to be gripped by the fact that he stands on the same ground as anyone and everyone to whom he preaches. If he doesn't know this to his very core, sermons can easily carry a tone of superiority, distance, and pretense, or simply fail to identify with those they are addressed to. If the fundamental honesty, not perfection, of the preacher is in question, his sermons will fail. After all, if the preacher seems dishonest about his own need, it's hard to trust him to offer us grace for ours.

Likewise, does the pastor live and preach as one who knows he has the Savior? The self-knowledge ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Readers Write
Your responses to the February 2010 issue of Christianity Today.
RecommendedYour Calling Isn’t Just Between You and God
Your Calling Isn’t Just Between You and God
How community discernment can help women recognize their gifts.
TrendingChristians Can Hold Their Bladders and Still Shop at Target
Christians Can Hold Their Bladders and Still Shop at Target
Consider the missional implications before you boycott.
Editor's PickReading Esther in the Shadow of ISIS
Reading Esther in the Shadow of ISIS
A Jewish philosopher’s perspective on how God delivers his people from radical evil.
Christianity Today
Better Ways to Deliver God's Word
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.