I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Gospel Coalition Conference. The list of expositors was overwhelming. Each preacher came with a long and decorated resume, and each preacher was unique in his style and delivery.
But despite the differences, I noticed some common threads running through every sermon. These threads were simple but substantial, and I am quite confident the inclusion of these threads will strengthen any sermon.
Here they are for you:
- Clarity over Coyness. Almost every expositor included a preview of his message in the introduction. Several actually said, “Here’s the outline of where we’re going…” In an age of enigmatic storytelling, where inductive outlines rule the day, I found the clarity refreshing and helpful. These speakers did not rely on their outline for interest, but trusted their content.
- Passion over Polish. The energy levels of each preacher varied but all of them were passionate. Some shouted loudly. Some spoke softly. But all of them spoke with deep conviction. Because of this, no one seemed fake, like they were affecting the emotion of a preacher. They came across as genuine preachers and their words carried weight.
- Intellect over Intuition. No one was winging it. Everyone was well-prepared, well-studied. I am sure they spoke with some extemporaneity. But clearly they were learned scholars, and we benefited from their careful efforts.
In the age of entertainment, we preachers sometimes feel pressure to bring polish and pizzazz, to be master pulpiteers. As a result, we worry with graphics and presentation. We focus on the shell of a sermon and skimp on content. But as you notice from the dichotomies above, these renowned teachers favored all things content. And the result? We were all edified and in a way that exalted Christ and attenuated celebrity.
I am thankful for these godly examples, and I pray for their continued faithfulness.