The Practice of Preaching

Posted: June 30, 2011 in culture, discipleship, ecclesiology, preaching, theology

D.M. Lloyd-Jones

Tim Keller recently posted his last article summarizing Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic book Preaching and Preachers.  Be sure to check out his previous posts if you haven’t already (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).

Here’s a snippet:

There are indeed many “incarnational” approaches to ministry that do not require a gifted speaker, and we should use them all. In fact, I would argue that in a post-Christian culture, preaching will not be effective in the gathered assembly if Christians are not also highly effective in their scattered state. In our times, people will be indifferent or hostile to the idea of attending church services without positive contact with Christians living out their lives in love and service. Therefore the incarnational “dispersed” ministry of the church is extremely vital and necessary.

Nevertheless, it is a mistake to argue that people in our society will not come to hear “real preaching.” The fact is that, even in a very post-Christian city, if the preaching is of high quality, people will be brought and will come back. They will be shocked at how convicting and attractive the gospel message is, and they will feel like they’ve never really heard it before (even if they have been raised in a church)…

In conclusion, I believe that Lloyd-Jones has made his case. I too am willing to affirm the “primacy of preaching” though I think there are many conservative evangelicals who take that to mean that preaching is essentially the only thing a minister has to do and everything else takes care of itself. That is a disastrous mistake. A man who is not deeply involved in personal shepherding, evangelism, and pastoral care will be a bad preacher. A man who can’t lead his church well, forming it into a cohesive community, will find (as we noted above) that his church can’t really benefit from his preaching. To say that preaching is primary in the church is correct. To make it virtually solitary in practice is not. Some will say that the Doctor made this mistake in his own ministry, and they may be right. Thirty years from now, if anyone cares, they’ll be able to point out my glaring errors, too. And yours. For now, I hope more people will accept and embrace what the Doctor has to say about the importance of preaching in our time.

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