Monday, August 20, 2012

Don't Settle for Your Mediocre Preaching

Here's a great post from Paul Tripp about preaching - especially preparation.

My favourite line is this:
Ministry mediocrity in any form is always an issue of the heart.

I also find his moustache quite impressive.


  1. A great post you reckon?

    More like a demoralising one. I have enough baggage to carry round as a preacher without adding this to the load.

    And that quote that you've included is just wrong. Ministry mediocrity is not always an issue of the heart. The most diligent, humble, hard working, theologically astute, pastorally sensitive, loving preacher can still be boring and sound unprepared. Through no fault of his/her own.

  2. Hi Al - good to hear from you bro, even though you don't like this post.
    I'm really enjoying some of Tripp's gear at the moment. I actually find him very Thurstonesque in a lot of his writings, so I'm surprised you found this discouraging! Sorry about that. I found it an encouragement to prepare well and to remember the privilege it is to preach.

  3. I'm inclined to agree with Alistair.

    Not "performing" at your best is part of human nature. In a small local church, I am flat out ALL THE TIME - visiting the sick, teaching R.E. in schools, attending meetings, counselling people with mental illness, writing bible studies, leading 2 bible study groups, and trying to spend time with my wife and kids. Then, at the end of the week, I have to produce a non-mediocre sermon. It's not easy. Sometimes God blesses my best efforts. Sometimes he works DESPITE my best efforts. Sometimes my sermons are, quite simply, mediocre.

    Tripp made this statement:
    "The problem is us. The problem is that we have lost our awe, and in losing our awe we are all too comfortable with representing God's excellence in a way that is anything but excellent."


    I strive for excellence in most things. I frequently don't quite get there, despite my best efforts. It has nothing to do with "awe", and everything to do with struggling to serve Christ in a busy world.

    None of this means I can put my feet up and relax. I just think there are so many Christian "gurus" out there giving us so much advice, that I'd need 5 lifetimes to put it all into practice at the same time. But I only get one.

    What's a guy to do?

    1. Hi Mat - good to hear from you too bro. Sorry you didn't like it.
      I found it a helpful reminder to prioritise preparation. I'm not sure where you got the "performing" and "gurus" stuff from? (I certainly haven't advocated 5 x lifetimes of advice from gurus on this blog..... hardly any actually!)
      What's a guy to do? Pay the mo, at least?

  4. Studies show that a mo like that improves comprehension and overall quality of one's preaching in direct proportion to the hair density of said mo...

  5. Also, given that this seems to be how he defines mediocrity:

    " I am tired of hearing boring, inadequately prepared theological lectures, delivered by uninspired preachers reading manuscripts, all done in the name of biblical preaching."

    I'm not sure, from what I know/have read/have heard of the three of you, that your "mediocre" sermons are mediocre by the standards being discussed.

    Mediocre is so relative.

  6. Thanks Dave. Like the post and the comments so far. Two things from me: 1) Often the problem isn't the content of the talk, but that the preacher sounds bored with it himself. Jesus is inspiring. The gospel is the best news ever. Surely we can talk about both of them with a sense of enthusiasm and joy. 2) Another problem is simply structural. So called 'boring' preachers usually fail to tell the people at the outset why this part of the Bible is going to make a difference to their lives. Making that connection early in the talk keeps people engaged throughout.

  7. Strangely enough, just read this in another article that quoted Martin Lloyd Jones saying, "Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit and should never be allowed to enter one." The writer said "the greatest sin in ministry is to bore people with the Bible."