Tim Keller gave a series of lectures on preaching at Reformed Theological Seminary (my alma mater). After the first session, “What Is Good Preaching?” Keller followed up with a Q and A. Someone asked who were Keller’s influences on how to be a good preacher. Along with George Whitefield, Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, Dick Lucas and Sinclair Ferguson, Keller mentioned R.C. Sproul, saying he was the “Driscoll before Mark Driscoll.”
I’ll never think of R.C. Sproul (or Mark Driscoll) the same way again.
Ligonier conducted their first Google hangout today with pastor, theologian and writer Sinclair Ferguson, where he offered advice to young pastors and church planters, discussed the role of preaching in the local church, gave commentary on celebrity pastors and the mega-church, his long relationship with R.C. Sproul, his recent retirement from full-time pastoral ministry, and his post-retirement plans (which include a number of promising writing projects).
Watching and listening to Sinclair for 45 minutes was a refreshing exercise in remembering what the pastoral ministry, indeed the Christian life, is primarily about: communion with the Triune God and the centrality of Christ crucified. (And it doesn’t hurt that he speaks with that lilting Scottish brogue accent.)
And lest you think the hangout was only for pastors, my wife also listened in, often giving a hearty “Amen!” to Sinclair’s comments.
Watch the hangout here:
It is on our knees before the Lord that we can make the [sermon] message our own, possess or re-possess it until it possesses us. Then, when we preach it, it will come neither from our notes, nor from our memory, but out of the depths of our personal conviction, as an authentic utterance of our heart. So, wrote [Richard] Baxter, ‘a minister should take some special pains with his heart before he is to go to the congregation.’ ‘Get you sermon by heart’ pleaded Cotton Mather, meaning not ‘learn it by heart’ but ‘get your heart suitably touched with what you have prepared.’
Every preacher knows the difference between a heavy sermon which trundled along the runway like an overloaded jumbo jet and never gets airborne, and a sermon which has ‘what a bird has, a sense of direction and wings.’ Which kind any sermon will be is usually settled as we pray over it beforehand.
We need to pray till our fresh comes freshly alive to us, the glory shines forth from it, the fire burns in our heart, and we begin to experience the explosive power of God’s Word within us.
—-Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today, p. 257 (line breaks and emphases mine).