READING GLEANINGS REGARDING PREACHING
“When I see a man so pious that he cannot preach the truth and oppose error, I naturally think that he needs watching. Occasionally we see good men worked up over the fact that we ought to do some constructive work. I think to try to get error out of the mind in order to give place for the truth is constructive work. ‘But,’ says someone, ‘we should do it in a kind spirit.’ No one should deny that, but it is strange that so many of us can see a good spirit in a teacher who winks at error and a bad spirit in one who contends for the truth.” (F. B. Srygley [1859-1940], Gospel Advocate, January 19, 1939.)
“Much is being said about the right kind of preaching and writing. Charges of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ are being bandied back and forth. With as plain a book as the New Testament in hand and with its abundant supply of examples of the very best preaching and writing, it ought not to be a difficult thing to determine the kind of both that should be done. A direct appeal to the New Testament, its preachers and its writers, ought to settle any question that arises in such a connection. Men who say the most about ‘the right method of approach,’ ‘constructive articles,’ etc., betray the fact that a lot of their ideas come from modern psychology, materialistic philosophy and sectarian sources rather than from Jesus and the apostles. It is futile to do a lot of talking about the method of approach, when you never approach. It would improve some preachers and writers if they could forget about the method and go ahead and approach. The main idea is getting there anyhow.” (Cled E. Wallace, Bible Banner, Vol. I, Num. 11, June 1939).
“At no time in history have we needed preachers with clear and confident conviction more than we need them today. Our culture has become tolerant and pluralistic. When preachers absorb this world-view, their preaching becomes mere fluff and insipidness. Rather than sounding out a ‘thus saith the Lord,’ doubt, strange sounds, half-heartedness, and pabulum have become the order of the day. Thus, pulpits have grown dull, passionless, and ineffective. Speaking with authority has been replaced with entertainment and showmanship.” (Clarence DeLoach, The Glory of Preaching, Clarence DeLoach and Jay Lockhart, The Jenkins Institute, 2014, p. 21.)
“However, something happened to preaching on our journey to the 21st century. There was a time when the churches of Christ were the fastest growing religious group in America, when preaching was held in high esteem. Nearly all congregations had gospel meetings, lectureships, and other events that exalted preaching. We believed the Bible, we believed in the power of preaching, and we looked for opportunities to hear preaching. Our gospel meetings lasted for ten days, two weeks, and sometimes even longer. We witnessed souls saved, the erring returned, and the saved edified. Then something happened. Preaching on Sundays was pushed by some to the background and relegated to fewer than thirty minutes. Gospel meetings were reduced in length to ten days, then to a week, then to three or four days, and some congregations eliminated them altogether. Sunday sermons were reduced to shallow spiritual pep talks, preachers delivered after-dinner speeches and called them sermons, and some preachers became little more than standup comedians. Sermons lacked emphasis upon doctrine and spiritual depth and were little more than the preacher telling his congregation, ‘Go out there and be nice this week.’ Then we wondered why a generation grew up without knowing the Bible, without understanding the nature of the church, without insight into the biblical concept of worship, and without knowing how to be saved or how we should live. We forgot, or perhaps never knew, that when a least a dozen revivals occurred in the Old Testament, every one of them was brought about by preaching the word of God, that the first-century church grew by preaching, and that there has never been a religious revival in history that was not brought about by preaching. So we ceased to emphasize preaching, to our detriment, and we forgot that God made preaching a vital part of worship.” (Jay Lockhart, ibid, p. 25.)
Clarence DeLoach and Jay Lockhart co-authored The Glory of Preaching. It is an excellent treatment of the subject, a book I have enjoyed reading, and one that I highly recommend to all gospel preachers. Both Clarence and Jay were fellow students of mine at Freed-HardemanCollege (now University) in the 1950s, and they have been two of the great preachers of the past fifty years.
Nov. 7-8: Houston Park Church of Christ Men’s Retreat, Selma, AL
Nov. 9: Houston Park Church of Christ, Selma, AL (a.m. worship only)
November 4, 2014