When Wayne Gretzky talks about hockey, it’s a good idea to listen. When Colin Powell, writes about leadership, pay attention. And when Charles Spurgeon teaches on preaching, take notes.
I’m gearing up for another year of training preachers at Heritage. I have the joy of teaching Homiletics at the school, training those who will teach and preach in the years to come. My desire is to help them learn to preach “from the Scriptures to the heart.” So as part of my preparation, I’ve been spending time learning from a master preacher: Charles Spurgeon.
Spurgeon, who is often called “the prince of preachers”, was the pastor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London from for almost forty years (1853 – 1892). Thousands came each week to listen as he skillfully and passionately preached God’s Word.
Not only was he a powerful preacher, Spurgeon was also a great teacher of preachers. He started a Pastors’ College to train other gospel ministers. What he taught his students over a century ago is still material I want to pass along to my students.
Here is some of Spurgeon’s advice to preachers as recorded in Tom Nettle’s new biography on Spurgeon (Living By Revealed Truth).
On Preaching as a High Calling
“Men of zeal and ability, if you love Jesus, make the ministry your aim; train your minds to it; exercise your soul toward it; and may God the Holy Spirit call you to it, that you also may preach the Word of reconciliation to the dying thousands.”
On Preaching after studying and soaking up Scripture:
“I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text and know its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it and let it soak into me.”
“He who no longer sows in the study will no more reap in the pulpit.”
On Preaching the “Big Idea” of a passage of Scripture:
“. . . start a sermon with a great idea and from that moment the discourse forms itself without much labour to the preacher, for truth naturally consolidates and crystallizes itself around the main subject like sweet crystals around a string hung up in syrup”
On Preaching without a heavy reliance on notes:
“…the memory loves to be trusted, and the more fully it is relied upon the more does it respond to our confidence.”
On Preaching for long-lasting impact:
“I believe that the best, surest, and most permanent way to fill a place of worship is to preach the gospel, and to preach it in a natural, simple, interesting, earnest way.”
I’d ask you to pray for your pastor as he has the privilege and responsibility of preaching God’s Word. Please pray for me as I regularly preach God’s Word and seek to train students at Heritage to become faithful, earnest and courageous preachers.