Jack Miller on Preaching

I’ve been reading this evening through Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, by Jack Miller, and came across these great quotes on preaching from his chapter entitled, “Preaching by Faith.”

“The goal of preaching is to change our hearers by the power of the gospel…Sometimes we make an eloquent message our primary goal. We become intent on producing a work of art or a scholarly composition. The sermon can become the end instead of a means to an end. Phillip Brooks wrote in his Lectures on Preaching that this is the cause of the failure of so ‘many of the ineffective sermons that are made.’ The prevailing intention in the heart of the preacher is to ‘produce something which shall be a work of art’ rather than a message ‘aimed at men,’ with a view to their transformation into Christlikeness…”

“The preacher should see preaching as a declaration of war, a conflict in which well-disciplined words march as to war to bring the hearers to surrender to Jesus Christ. We need to use the pulpit as a battle station.”

“Earlier I said that nothing must go into the sermon that does not serve its aim to change the hearers. Likewise nothing must go into the pastor except that which will build his faith in Christ. When he is a man ‘hot with Christ,’ then he is ready to preach by faith. Nothing less will do. Consequently, we must repent for our desire to be approved for our everlasting ‘stirring of the bucket’ of human activity. Preaching requires a spirit of quietness and waiting on God in prayer. It takes time to cultivate that style of life.”

“Faith within the preacher begets faith within the hearers; unbelief in the preacher spreads its own withering chill and solidifies inward-looking habits among leaders and members of the congregation.”

“Our task as pastors is to aim the message at people with courage and command them to believe lest they die in their sins. Our calling is not to put our faith in our excellent sermons but in the excellencies of Christ. Let us, therefore, make our messages sharp-edged instruments to do God’s holy work – to inform, to convince, and to motivate, with a view to transforming men and women into the image of Christ through faith in Him alone. Preach Christ with a burning faith, hot enough to get people to listen and catch fire themselves.”



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