At Florida Christian College I learned the “Art of Preaching”. I may not be the greatest at it—but I had some great teachers. Many of you met Richard Marshall (and his wife Betty) when he attended an evening service here at South Side last summer. Mr. Marshall was not just my teacher, but for two years he was my preacher. He could bring great powerful sermons, without notes! He always impressed us future preachers with that ability. He has a local tie, as he preached at Lone Oak while attending Lincoln.
Then there was Glenn Bourne. Professor Bourne is a fantastic preacher of the Word. He was my practical ministry professor. I also had him for the Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church) and the book of Revelation. Professor Bourne is a great mentor to me.
I couldn’t talk about great preaching and leave out Dr. James Smith. Wow! He preached to us future preachers every day in his classes. When you left Doc Smith’s class you weren’t sure whether to repent or study for an exam (or both). I would love to be able to teach and preach like Doc Smith.
Oh, and yes, Dr. Roger Chambers. I think I have listened to everything ever recorded that he taught. Dr. Chambers was such a logical thinker. When I would listen to him preach or teach, it was always the meat, but yet so simple—most of the time!
Throughout my years of being a Christian, there have been many others who have had an influence on me and my “art of preaching”. I often would travel to sister churches holding revivals, especially when any of these men were preaching. Here is a short list:
* Ed Harris
* Dr. Wilke Winter
* Raymond Bennett
* Ed Bousman
* Dean Mills
* Dr. James Strauss
* Clearance Greenleaf
* John Butler Book
* George Faull
* Don DeWelt
* Lee Mason
* Marshall Leggett
* Ben Merold
* Dr. Lewis Foster
* Robert Hodshire
There is one thread that runs through all of these great preachers of the faith. All these preachers preached the old stuff! They preached the old Jerusalem Gospel with such a great passion. I never had to wonder where any of these great preachers stood. They simply preached the Word. Their goal was to promote New Testament Christianity. Their passion was the restoration of New Testament Church. They would never apologize for preaching the basics, frankly because that is what the church so desperately needs.
Why is it that in the church we often think we need something other than that? Many want pop psychology. Others are looking for quick fixes to life’s problems. Still others are looking for “feel good” sermons. Then there are those who don’t think they have heard a good sermon until they heard a good story or joke. Oh, and yes, there are those who think that a good sermon must beat them up spiritually (even though it is just a good sermon to listen to, with no intentions to change).
Let me list some elements that, in my opinion, make a good sermon:
Biblically based—I am not interested in a cute illustration, but rather a sermon! I am also not interested in listening to someone who can’t even get the basics of the faith right. If they miss it there, where else will they miss it?
A lesson to be learned—Many of our non-instrumental brethren have it right. They do not call their messages “sermons” but rather “lessons”.
Well outlined—something easy to remember. Sometimes you hear preachers and wonder what their point was. Well outlined lessons help to give focus and direction.
Preach Jesus—The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and how to apply that so that I can be saved!
An invitation—As Philip ‘preached Jesus’ unto the Ethiopian, they came to some water . . . Philip’s preaching of Jesus included the invitation to be immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of sins! Wow! So simple!
Great preaching takes lots of preparation, not simply the week before the lesson, but years of study.
One other note about the preachers I have learned to love over the years: Several of them have died and gone on to be with the Lord. That is glory to them, but a great loss to us. I pray that I could be half the evangelist of anyone on that list.