Preaching that Moves People

I’ve just finished reading a new book on preaching. It’s written by Yancey Arrington (I’m told Yancey is a good ol’ Texas name) who serves as teaching pastor in a church in Houston.

It’s not a book about the tasks of assembling the content of sermons, but focusses instead on their delivery: you will need to look elsewhere for books that cover issues of exegesis and hermeneutics. It’s not that Arrington thinks these are unimportant, it’s just that he thinks not enough attention has been paid to how we better connect with our listeners. While teaching may be content-centred and aim for comprehension, preaching should be people-centred and aim for engagement.

All good preaching includes teaching … However, unless the preacher calls for a response … to those truths, what happens in the pulpit remains more lecture than sermon.

Arrington makes his point under four main headings:

  • Arrange for tension – which I think in a sense is a call for more inductive preaching where we don’t give away the point right at the start. It’s a move away from the old advise that the preacher should tell the people what he’s going to say, say it, then tell them what he has just said.
  • Build for pace. Here is where he develops the skiing analogy that is hidden in the book’s title. The sermon’s main idea is the skier’s path down the mountain. Get down too quickly and the sermon is superficial; get down too slowly (too many turns and digressions), and you may lose your listeners.
  • Chart for bandwidth – in which he explores the emotional content of a sermon and argues that the preacher needs to engage a range of highs and lows (as well as some steadiness in the middle) through the course of a sermon. Too much steadiness and it’s boring; too many highs and it’s exhausting; too may lows and it’s sad.
  • Find your voice. Preachers need to be themselves. Influencers (other voices) can help us to find our own voice, but if they become idols, they can prevent us from finding our voice.

The book is clearly written in an American context and primarily for an American audience, but you shouldn’t be put off because he talks about getting hot dogs at halftime when your football team has scored a touchdown, or because he hasn’t referred to your favourite European preacher!

It’s a refreshing read and I think it will probably be of most benefit to preachers who are familiar with more technical material by people like Bryan Chapell (who has written an endorsement) or Sidney Greidanus.



Your Leadership Journey

revd-alistair-bill-saintfield-road-presbyterianAlistair Bill has been minister of Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church in Belfast for almost 24 years. In this week’s podcast – the first part of a two-part interview – Alistair talks about his early years, including how he came to faith through the ministry of Arthur Blessitt (remember him carrying his cross around Northern Ireland in 1972, and the smiley face stickers? – he is now into his 50th year of carrying the cross!) and how he began to sense God’s call into vocational ministry.

In part 2 of the interview (next week) Alistair talks about his years of ministry in Greystones, Monaghan, and his current church – Saintfield Road: he also shares some of the important leadership lessons he has picked up along the way.

Remember that you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, where you can also catch up with previous episodes, including interviews with

View original post 11 more words

The Leadership Journey Podcast 8: David McClay (part 1)

Here’s this week’s episode of the Leadership Journey Podcast, with David McClay.

Your Leadership Journey

sligo-30-650x550Archdeacon David McClay is Rector of Willowfield Parish Church in East Belfast. Along with his wife, Hilary, he leads the work of New Wine Ireland.

In this week’s episode of the podcast, David talks about his early years of coming to faith, beginning vocational ministry in the Church of Ireland, and some of the formative influences in his life . He also talks about the painful experience of losing his first wife when he was still a young minister, and how God worked in his life as a result of that experience.

(Part two of the interview will be next week).

View original post

The Leadership Journey Podcast Episode 6: Derek Tidball (part 1)

This week’s episode of the Leadership Journey Podcast is online and it features the first part of an interview with Dr Derek Tidball.

Your Leadership Journey

The guest on the next two episodes of the podcast is Dr Derek Tidball. Derek’s leadership roles have included ministry in a couple of Baptist churches as well as being Principal of London School of Theology: he is also the author of many books, including his most recent book, Lead Like Joshua.

View original post

The sensitivity of the Spirit

I posted this 5 years ago and I’ve had the same Bible passages today.

Where will ‘The Dove’ settle?

JS Alan Wilson

Doves get a mention in both parts of my Bible reading today. First, in the Genesis reading, was the story of the dove that was sent out by Noah in an attempt to determine how quickly the flood waters were subsiding. Then, in Matthew, was the account of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove.

A couple of years ago I heard RT Kendall talk about the sensitivity of the Spirit. He has a book with that title. He tells the story of a couple, Sandy and Bernice, who went to be missionaries in Israel. They noticed that a dove had come to live in the eaves of their house in Jerusalem. They also noticed that the dove was disturbed by noise in the house. If a door was slammed or if voices were raised, the dove would fly off. They didn’t want to lose the dove…

View original post 62 more words

The Leadership Journey Podcast Episode 3: Crucibles, Calling, and Existential Intensity

Your Leadership Journey

MicrophoneIn this week’s episode there is more on crucibles and we talk about calling and something called ‘existential intensity’ (which really has nothing to do with French novelists from the mid 20th-century).

As we reflect on calling, we discuss ways in which crucibles might be the birthplace of a calling or may be the testing ground for a calling; and we’ll suggest that ‘existential intensity’ is when something a leader believes at some level takes on an extra dimension and becomes part of the leader.

And there will be some questions for you to take away if you find yourself navigating a crucible experience.

It would be great to get your feedback on the podcasts – feel free to get in touch via the comment section.

View original post