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Ten Questions for Expositor Preaching

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sammy Rhodes, RUF minister at Georgia Southern University, and blogger at From Age to Age, provided me with answers to the “Ten Questions for Expositor Preaching” questions.

All posts for this topic can be found here.

10 Questions for Expositors (Sammy Rhodes)
1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
It is central, essential, and non-negotiable to both the gathering and perfecting of the saints. Acts 6:7, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” God means to use preaching for the salvation and sanctification of souls, period. Therefore it must be absolutely primary in the life of the church.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
I was afforded opportunities as a young man to teach and speak that made me and others think I might be called into the ministry. And then my time at RTS-Charlotte, under Dr. John Oliver, was very encouraging and instrumental to my development as a preacher.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
Usually 6 hours of tangible time, and then many, many thoughts and ideas in the days (and in the nights) that lead up to the sermon that I couldn’t measure. I think sermon preparation must have both study and reflection. And it’s hard to measure the reflection part.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I think a sermon needs a logical umbrella under which all of its points fit. Spurgeon was a master at doing this, but in a variety of ways. Nothing is worse to me that formulaic preaching, which is why I am careful here.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
This has already been well said; but I restate it. The preacher must be himself; and the preacher must strive to be the best of himself. He should definitely avoid copycat preaching, even though he must have (and does have) models from which he learns. But he must also avoid the place in which he ceases from striving to be the best of himself, for which he will be striving until he dies.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
I either use minimal notes, or none at all these days. But preaching to college students usually requires a more conversational tone.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
First, an unholy life. McCheyne said it best: “My people’s greatest need is my own personal holiness.” I believe that; I want to strive for that more and more. Second, the approval of men. It is hard to preach to men, yet preach unto Christ. But the Scriptures are clear (Galatians 1:10) that if we aim to please men we cease being the servants of Christ.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
Our ministry is one of the Word, yet it is to people. How can we preach to people we don’t know? We must know the Word and know our people. Practically this means that I shouldn’t neglect meeting with my students for further study. I have to study with diligence. But part of my study is meeting with, and caring for my people.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
My favorite book is Martin Lloyd-Jones’ classic, Preachers and Preaching. Samuel Davies offers me continual encouragement by saying in one of his journal entries that he was rarely able to preach in a way that was pleasing to himself. John Newton encourages me too in his letter “On the Snares and Difficulties Attending the Ministry.” Inspirations of late to me are Sinclair Ferguson, John Stott, Tim Keller, and Det Bowers.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
None at this point. I am a young preacher seeking that nurture and development of which you speak!

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