­
EFAC Australia

Preaching

Seasoned preachers Peter Adam (Principal of Ridley  Melbourne), Glenn Davies (Bishop of North Sydney and Chairman of EFAC Australia) and Kanishka Raffel (Rector of St Matthew’s Shenton Park, Perth) talk about their preaching role models and methods of preparation with Wei-Han Kuan.

Most young preachers can readily identify their early role models, those preachers whose ministry greatly affected and inspired them. Novice preachers often consciously or unconsciously mimic the patterns of preaching in their heroes. John Stott reckoned that it takes about ten years of preaching before the preacher finds their own voice. I was interested in this dynamic and earlier this year asked three experienced preachers to talk about their role models and methods of preparation.
Thanks for agreeing to discuss this. Let’s start with role model preachers. Who were your’s?
Peter. Four bachelors!
John Stott, who came to Australia for the CMS Summer Schools in January 1965, and expounded 2 Corinthians. I had not heard a book of the Bible expounded before. It was my call to the ministry, and also provided the model of ministry I wanted to do.
Archdeacon John Moroney, who preached varied powerful, memorable, and convincing Biblical sermons, at Williamstown and Hawthorn, each
one perfectly suited to the text being expounded.
Dick Lucas, of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, for his marvelously incisive insights into the Bible, and into its application.
John Chapman, for his example of evangelism, human engagement of preacher and people, and for finding an Australian model of preaching.
Glenn. John Stott also! He was a model preacher for me in my youth, with his memorable three-point outlines and several subdivisions. I’ve never heard a better preacher for organising his material into a sermon.

One way to open ourselves afresh to the word of grace.
Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard pressed to find any that list listening to the preaching of God's Word as a first-order spiritual discipline. It may be mentioned under the broader category of reading and studying the Bible. But listening to preaching deserves attention of its own.
This was clearly a crucial dimension of the early church's life-"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Certainly the leaders of the Reformation felt that way. They placed primary attention on public teaching and preaching. Karl Barth, writing to the well-educated West, regarded the proclamation of the Word as one of the three fundamental ways that people experience the life-changing Word of God.
In addition to biblical and theological aspects, we might consider some practical aspects of preaching-particularly expository preaching, preaching that strives to convey the meaning of biblical truth-that can help us see it as a vital spiritual discipline that humbly grounds us in the work and Word of God:

Charles Perry was the first Bishop of Melbourne, consecrated on St Peter’s Day 1847. He arrived in Melbourne on 24 January 1848, the first, and until Barker’s arrival in Sydney, the only evangelical bishop in Australia. Perry delivered his first sermon in the new Diocese in St James’ Church on the 28th.

Perry was a definite and committed evangelical, and this sermon sets out his programme and priorities for ministry in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Today, more than 150 years later, it still resounds with evangelical fervour, biblical clarity and humble devotion to the Lord.

Although based, as sermons typically were in that time, on one verse the entire sermon is steeped in Scripture. There are no less than 20 different scriptures cited from both Old and New Testaments and numerous other allusions besides. Phrases from the Book of Common Prayer are not so much quoted, but woven into his sentences. His verse was 2 Corinthians 5:20 -
‘Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God’

A psychologist friend of mine once told me, mid-conversation, that the ‘mmmmm-ing’ I was emitting and the ‘mmmmm-ing’ she was reciprocating with actually had official psycho-babble (my term, not hers) names: they were minimal encouragers.

Minimal encouragers, I thought, that makes sense. You know how it goes: a parishioner needs a pastoral chat, a co-raconteur is regaling you with a tall tale, a colleague is offering up their latest evangelistic idea, and you find yourself ‘mmmmm-ing’. Perhaps without knowing it, you’re urging them on to tell you more, anticipating the next nugget of news, humouring them so that silence won’t discourage them, agreeing with the overall sentiment of what’s being said (or, at the very least, agreeing that they agree with the overall sentiment of what’s being said).

And it’s not just the one-to-one, in-the-flesh conversations in which the minimal encourager makes its presence felt. Think of the multitudinous phone calls you make to various agencies and companies that require a transaction of information. If we haven’t given, we’ve certainly gotten.

Micah is the flavour of the month for Old Testament prophets. His name has been catapulted onto the public stage through the Micah Challenge, and the associated Make Poverty History campaign. But does Micah simply tell us to "make poverty history"? Is this his only message: "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God" (6:8)? Is there more to the prophet Micah?

Micah Then

Micah was writing to the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the reigns of Kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (1:1) which places him somewhere between 750-686BC. This period was a time of great affluence in Judah and the lure of wealth and power led to sins of corruption and idolatry. We see these sins among the people of God, germinating in the fertile ground of wealth and prosperity, growing up into their day to day dealings, into business, leadership and religion. Micah speaks strong words of judgement against these sins. He denounces the idolaters, the wealthy landowning classes who oppress the poor and marginalised, the civic and spiritual leaders who take the law into their own hands, and informs them of the coming judgement of God.

But the book is not all judgement. The fabric of the book is also woven with a strong message of redemption for the faithful. These signs of hope in the God of the covenant intersperse the messages of condemnation against sin. There is a vision of the renewed Jerusalem as the sign of hope and restoration beyond the exile. There is the promise of the ruler who will be born in Bethlehem of Ephrathah. There is the wonderful note of forgiveness and mercy that rings in the readers' ears as the book draws to a close.

­