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Mastered by Convictions

What working with John Stott taught me about preaching.

John Stott was rector of All Souls Church in London, England, for 25 years and chaplain to the Queen for more than 30. He is internationally renowned for clear, expositional preaching. We asked Greg Scharf, chair of practical theology at Trinity International University, what he learned from Stott in his three years on staff at All Souls.

What makes John Stott the preacher he is?

His commitment to being mastered by the text of Scripture. He wrote early on, "The real secret of expository preaching is not mastering certain techniques but being mastered by certain convictions."

He also wrote, "The biblical text is…[not] a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said."

And yet, he wouldn't want to leave the impression that it's just us and the text. He wrote somewhere else, "One might single out freshness of spiritual experience as the first indispensable quality of the effective preacher. No amount of homiletical technique ...

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