I hope that you’re taking advantage of today’s media in order to improve your preaching. It used to be that if you wanted to be exposed to a great preacher, all you could do was read their sermons. Now we can listen to them on our iPods and watch them online.
In this post, we’ll look at a few things that Mark Driscoll does well that we can learn from.
But first, the danger. When you try to learn from another preacher, you run the risk of sounding like them.
And everyone in your church knows it, because they listen to the good preachers, too. The last thing I want is for my hearers to think, “Wow, Eric’s been listening to (enter TGC conference speaker here) this week.”
The goal is to learn from good preachers without sounding like them.
Don’t be a fan-boy
When you start listening to other people, the thing that will stop you from being yourself is the fan-boy syndrome. You get infatuated with the presentation, and in so doing, you take the form, but not the substance. You start copying phrases, tone, and mannerisms rather than making use of similar homiletical moves.
Matt Chandler nailed this point in this clip from an Acts 29 Boot Camp.
Very funny. Very true.
Don’t focus on the externals. That’s like buying a fake Rolex off the street in New York City. If you want to preach a sermon that doesn’t waste a single second, you have to learn how to assemble it. You must go beneath the surface of personality and get to what is happening in the sermon homiletically.
If you aren’t aggressive, don’t try to be aggressive. Don’t try to be funny if you aren’t. Definitely don’t start preaching for an hour and fifteen minutes if your church service only gives you thirty.
But there are some things Driscoll does in his sermons that anyone can apply, no matter what their personality is like.
What to take from Driscoll and apply in your preaching
There’s a lot that Driscoll does well, but I picked these three because I think they solve common pitfalls for preachers.
1. Use as specific examples as possible in your application. Most application I hear is vague and abstract. Which means that it isn’t actually application. You have to move from general principles to specific practice. Part of why Driscoll’s sermons are so long is because he gives so many examples of how to live out what the Bible teaches. He doesn’t just tell men to honor their wives, he tells them how to honor their wives.
2. Take advantage of topical opportunities through expositional preaching. Driscoll preaches almost exclusively through books of the Bible. But he doesn’t fail to address the important topics of the day. He accomplishes this by capitalizing on the opportunities afforded him in each passage throughout the book. For example, he used Luke 1:41 – where John lept in Elizabeth’s womb – to preach against abortion.
Before you decide to preach topical sermons so that you can hit all your soap boxes, consider an expository preaching approach. Then, as Scripture brings those issues up, address each one. This places you and the people under God’s authority, rather than yours.
3. Contextualize to your audience. Driscoll knows that thousands of people listen to him on the web. But you know who he talks to? The person in Seattle. Don’t preach to the people who hear you online, whether they be possible new members or future search committees. Preach to your people.
Do it your way
These three tips aren’t personality driven. They’re homiletically driven. They are things every good preacher should be doing. As you start to deliver your sermons in these new ways, your people aren’t going to say, “Wow, he’s been listening to a lot of Driscoll this week.”
They’ll say, “Wow, that was really helpful.”