What makes good preaching?

We know it when we hear it, but what makes good preaching?  Why does one person think preaching is good while another doesn’t?

Preaching is
David Jackman, to founding principal of the Cornhill Preaching College in London has just left Australia and taught at Cornhill Sydney and at Moore College. His summary of preaching is very helpful.

Quoting John Piper, Jackman says that ‘the aim and purpose of preaching is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men and women’.  David Jackman goers on to say that God is the perfect communicator through his Word, and so when we preach to an audience he asks ‘where is the Bible?’ He says that in many of our pulpits the Bible is behind the head of the preacher who is facing the congregation. That is, the preacher reads the Bible and preaches himself. Jackman would rather have the Bible figuratively positioned between the preacher and the congregation, so that the congregation sees and hears the Word of God; because it is the Word of God in the hands of God that produces the work of God.

So the first element of good preaching comes from the God who speaks. We must preach the truth spoken by the true and living God made known to us through the Scriptures.

Preaching is interesting
The Word of God, because it is the Word of our creator and savior, is always interesting and exciting. God knows humans better than we can possibly know ourselves. He is the expert on us, and so what he reveals is interesting. Interesting because it shows us as we truly are so we can know ourselves, and shows God as He truly is, so we can know him.

Preaching is relevant
Because we preach God’s truth we proclaim his timeless Word to our current situation, and it is always a word that understands, exposes and trains us. It is relevant to our situation.

And so good preaching is true, interesting and relevant. But how?

True Preaching
Preaching is true, when the preacher captures the purpose of the section being exposed. They achieve this under the illumination of the Holy Spirit by understanding the purpose of writing to the original hearers, and the rightly discerning the timeless issues that have caused it to be preserved for us.

Interesting preaching
True preaching isn’t enough for good preaching. It must be interesting because how can God’s word be anything other than interesting? Interest is developed and maintained by exposing a conflict or complication that has to be solved and resolving it through the gospel. Preaching needs a plot that moves from complication to resolution via the revelation in the text.

Relevant preaching
Preaching must be relevant because God always challenges the hearer to greater trust and obedience; challenges the hearer to slaughter and crush the conscious and sub conscious idols we hold dear.

This means we will seek to discern from the passage what God challenges about in our allegiances and the grandeur of what he calls us to in inviting us to be united to Christ, and then demands that we make the change. This is always relevant.

Good preaching needs to be true, interesting and relevant because that is what God is when he speaks through His Word.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.