My one rule of preaching and the answer to the question “What is your preaching style?”

I get asked this question from time-to-time: “What is your preaching style?” (as I’m sure many pastors do) and the answer isn’t easy. “Expository” is probably the best technical term, but I don’t think that’s what people are looking for when they ask this question.

Usually they are wondering if my preaching is comforting, or do I lecture, or am I rebuking people, or do I address theological issues like predestination, or do I preach a lot on the end times.

The answer to each of these is “Yes.” The answer to each of these is also “No.”

I’m not being shifty, those are the correct answers. To understand you have to understand my main rule of preaching. Here it is:

Preach the text in front of you.

That’s it. And it covers quite a bit of ground.

If the text is comforting, the message will be comforting. If the text rebukes, you’ll be rebuked (and so will I). If the text presents a theological conundrum then I’ll discuss the conundrum and try to help you make sense of it. If the text is an “end time” text then you’ll get an end-time sermon.

As I said, this rule covers quite a bit of ground.

It also requires more of me as a preacher.

This means that I have to resist my natural tendency sometimes. Sometimes I feel like rebuking, but if the text comforts, I must comfort. Sometimes I feel like comforting, but if the text rebukes, I must rebuke. Sometimes I don’t want to address theological issues but if the text addresses a theological issue, we’re going to confront it (and be confronted by it) together.

The text rules (literally).

Do I always get it right? Certainly not because I’m not perfect.

(And by the way, neither are you. And the pastor at your previous church is also not perfect. Neither is your uncle who’s a pastor in another state or your daddy who used to preach. Neither is Piper, Keller, Driscoll, or anybody else. Neither was Calvin or Whitefield, or Luther or Spurgeon. Neither was [insert anyone’s name here except Jesus]. I’m not trying to pick a fight or or attack anyone when I say this; I’m just pointing out something that we all need to be reminded of from time-to-time.)

But by following this rule I get closer to “right” and closer more often than I would without it.

And this rule, regardless of what text I preach, fits into the same pattern: I read the text, explain the text, ask questions of the text, proclaim the text, and apply the text. And through it all, at every step, the text gets its way.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Ministry, preaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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