Monday, December 14, 2009

Iain Murray on what is lacking in modern preaching

One of God's wonderful gifts to the contemporary church is Iain Murray. Minister, Author and lecturer, Murray founded the Banner of Truth Trust in 1957. The publication and distribution of "Banner Books" has been one of the chief instruments in the revival of gospel-centered Christianity in our day.

Iain Murray's books and preaching have always proved helpful to me. I regard his 2 volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones as unsurpassed in biographical writing. Volume 1 was used by God to strengthen me at a very pivotal time early in my pastoral ministry and is one of the most influential books I have ever read.

So, when Iain renders an opinion on an important issue, I want to take it to heart. Today I received his latest "Murray News" email. Buried within descriptions of his recent travels and ministries, he offered his view of things that he regretfully finds lacking too often in contemporary preaching. They are not all equally important, but they are all worth considering. I pass along his short, provocative list for my fellow pastors and for future pastors.
Among things missing in too much preaching I regret the following: 1. Too often no distinct text is announced at the outset (almost as though a text is a boring way to start a sermon). But nothing is more important. In former times a preacher often gave out his text twice. 2. Lack of passion and urgency 3. Lack of on the part of the preacher; by which I mean, not faith in his message, but faith in Christ to enable him to speak in His name without dependence on a written manuscript. There is too much paper in pulpits! 4. Lack of memorisation of Scripture! We all ought to know much more Scripture by heart than we do, and especially preachers. An occasional turning up of a reference with the congregation is understandable, but to make a practice of it, and to fail to quote Scripture freely, is to diminish what preaching ought to be. 5. Far better to be short than to be dull! A number of eminent preachers could be quoted who did not think 20 minutes ‘short’ or unacceptable. There ought to be more variation.

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