Graham Heslop
Graham Heslop Graham has an insatiable appetite for books, occasionally dips into theology, and moonlights as a lecturer in New Testament Greek at George Whitefield College, Cape Town. He also serves on the staff team at Union Chapel Presbyterian Church and as the written content editor for TGC Africa. Graham is married to Lynsay-Anne and they have one son, Teddy.

7 Means of Preaching That Trump Method

7 Means of Preaching That Trump Method

Earlier this year I wrote an article cautioning preachers—even occasional pulpiteers such as myself—against the idea that God’s work through preaching is relative to the amount of exegetical preparation and precision. This exaggerated emphasis on the importance of professional Bible teaching is most evident in prayerlessness. Far from pointing the finger, I write as someone well versed in proudly depending on my Bible handling over against prayerfully depending on the Spirit of God.

This is the temptation for those who insist on expository preaching, syntax diagramming, canonical as well as literary contexts, and making the “main point” of the text the main point of your sermon. So we evaluate preaching similarly to how we might an exegetical paper. We insist on hours of time spend in the original languages assisted by the best commentators, but rarely insist on hours spent praying. Though we might never say it, we believe that God is lucky to have such capable Bible handling Sunday by Sunday.

Method isn’t Everything

Having identified this arrogance in myself, I was grateful to recently read the Westminster Divines’ Directory for the Public Worship of God. In it they offer a method for preaching, which contains few surprises: study carefully, preach the text, occasionally major in doctrine, always exhort and comfort, carefully appling God’s truth to your local congregation.

But then we read this: “This method is not prescribed as necessary for every man, or upon every text; but only recommended, as being found by experience to be very much blessed of God, and very helpful for the people’s understandings and memories.” In other words, preaching can—indeed it probably should—look different depending on your own gifting as well as personality and the context as well as constitution of your church. Method isn’t everything.

Means and Manner for Preaching

Rather, as the Divines continues, “the servant of Christ, whatever his method be, is to perform his whole ministry:”

1. Painfully

Not doing the work of the Lord negligently.

2. Plainly

That the meanest may understand; delivering the truth not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; abstaining also from an unprofitable use of unknown tongues, strange phrases, and cadences of sounds and words; sparingly citing sentences of ecclesiastical or other human writers, ancient or modern, be they never so elegant.

3. Faithfully

Looking at the honour of Christ, the conversion, edification, and salvation of the people, not at his own gain or glory; keeping nothing back which may promote those holy ends, giving to every one his own portion, and bearing indifferent respect unto all, without neglecting the meanest, or sparing the greatest, in their sins.

4. Wisely

Framing all his doctrines, exhortations, and especially his reproofs, in such a manner as may be most likely to prevail; shewing all due respect to each man’s person and place, and not mixing his own passion or bitterness.

5. Gravely

As becometh the word of God; shunning all such gesture, voice, and expressions, as may occasion the corruptions of men to despise him and his ministry.

6. With Loving Affection

That the people may see all coming from his godly zeal, and hearty desire to do them good.

7. As Taught of God, and Persuaded in His Own Heart

That all that he teacheth is the truth of Christ; and walking before his flock, as an example to them in it; earnestly, both in private and public, recommending his labours to the blessing of God, and watchfully looking to himself, and the flock whereof the Lord hath made him overseer: So shall the doctrine of truth be preserved uncorrupt, many souls converted and built up, and himself receive manifold comforts of his labours even in this life, and afterward the crown of glory laid up for him in the world to come.

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