Preaching has a unique place in the world. Other forms of speech entertain, educate, direct. Preaching takes the message of God and Christ to men and in turn brings Christians to greater devotion and sinful men to God. By preaching over the last twenty centuries the Church has grown and spread through the Western world. Peter and Paul, Jerome, Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Ambrose, Paulinus, Ignatius of Loyola and other great Christian preachers first made the Gospel known around the eastern and middle Mediterranean.
Since their time Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Melanchthon, John Donne, John and Charles Wesley and other great preachers have continued to build upon the foundation laid by Christ and his early disciples in the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles and in the wonderful book of Revelation. No century has been without its pulpit masters.
In our own time the ministry is largely divided into two groups as far as preaching is concerned. One large sector bypasses preaching to concentrate upon teaching and other functions of the Church. The other group consists of those who do the preaching. In other words, out of 231,000 clergy in the United States, about one-half carry all the preaching responsibilities of all of the different denominations. A few churches have no preaching at all; others, by contrast, place their emphasis on the sermon and only incidental stress on music and/or ritual.
In connection with my volumes of Best Sermons, I have sent invitations during the last 20 years to more than 120,000 clergymen who do preach. From the 15,000 to 22,500 sermon invitations issued for each volume, the average number of sermon manuscripts received for reading and consideration has increased from 5,000 for the first volume ...1
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