Friday, February 24, 2012
Preaching With No Unnecessary Words
A veteran pastor took me to lunch yesterday.
As preachers tend to do, we spent most of the lunch talking about preaching and preachers.
The conversation continued as he drove me back to my office.
The last preacher he brought up, as we were turning onto Beaver Street, was the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge. Dr. Lockridge was the pastor of the historic Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, a well-respected preacher, and noted denominational leader.
The veteran pastor recalled the first time he heard Dr. Lockridge preach. It was at a Southern Baptist Convention event. He said it was the greatest sermon on the Lordship of Jesus Christ he had ever heard. He noted that the sermon was barely twenty minutes long. And he added one more compliment… There were no unnecessary words in the sermon.
That final compliment grabbed my attention. No wasted words?
I have never heard any sermon given such a compliment. And I do not know any sermon to which I could attribute that compliment, especially my sermons!
But this is a worthy standard for preachers to strive for, isn’t it?
There is a spiritual global warming that is slowly yet progressively ruining the atmosphere of the church. It is the result of a great deal of pollution that comes from the pulpit. Our preaching is littered with too many unnecessary words.
One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Translation: The right word spoken at the right time is priceless! This should be our goal in preaching.
Of course, preaching with no unnecessary words requires hard work. We must study diligently. We must read ourselves full. We must write and rewrite until our message is clear. We must determine to stay on message when we get to the pulpit. And we must pray that the Lord will use us to speak a word fitly spoken.
Let’s join Paul who asked the saints to pray “also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).