Excellence in Preaching

Excellence in Preaching December 29, 2011

Excellence in Preaching: Studying the Craft of Leading Preachers (IVP, 2011) presents the composite of a good preacher. Simon Vibert of Wycliffe Hall in Oxford has written this book profiling some of the most gifted preachers in the Western Hemisphere. The preachers profiled in the book illustrate 12 things good preachers do well.  

  • Tim Keller – Awareness of cultural and philosophical challenges to the gospel
  • John Piper – Inspiring a passion for the glory of God
  • Vaughan Roberts – Allowing the Bible to speak with simplicity and freshness
  • Simon Ponsonby – Being a Word-and-Spirit preacher
  • J. John – Using humor and story to connect and engage and dismantle barriers
  • David Cook – Creating interest, applying well
  • John Ortberg –  Preaching with spiritual formation in mind
  • Nicky Gumbel – Making much of Jesus Christ
  • Rico Tice – Preaching with urgency and evangelistic zeal
  • Alistair Begg – Persuading people by passionate argument from the Bible
  • Mark Driscoll – Teaching with directness, challenge and relevance
  • Mark Dever – Exposing all of God’s Word to all of God’s people

In sum, Vibert says good preaching requires that you:

1. Be relevant and interesting, showing how the Bible applies to life today. Immerse yourself in God’s Word so that you are speaking form his and not your own agenda. Also help people to appreciate that God’s agenda is controlling what you are saying.

2. Feed your congregation with the Word, but also encourage an appetite for more. Work hard to make your sermon clear, simple and memorable, using repetition, alliteration and rhetorical techniques that work for you. Use language and words as well-sharpened tools of your trade. Communicate the importance and urgency of what you are saying, allowing it to move both you and your congregation.
3. Use humor and story to reveal your humanity. And be careful to do this in a way that helps the congregation to see that you have found your joy, purpose and meaning in God.
4. Speak naturally and personally. Reveal the ways in which the messages has had an impact on you individually. Don’t be bookish, but be people-ish. Don’t disconnect with people in order to prepare a sermon, but rather prepare by loving, praying for and rubbing shoulders with those people to whom you are preaching (153).

There is also a website which provides additional resources.


"Hi Mike,Do you agree with Lyn Cohick on Phil 3v9 ? Where have you written ..."

Post-Commentary Reflections on Philippians
"I agree that Longman’s Genesis commentary is an excellent one (in an excellent series). It ..."

Tremper Longman on Genesis
"The True Religion is another false gospel. We too often draw identity and security from ..."

A Taxonomy of Today’s Fake Gospels
"Bad examples. Those religions were only (somewhat) tolerated AFTER they have been assimilated into Roman ..."

The Myth of Tolerant Paganism

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Cordelia

    would it be uncharitable of me as a first time reader to point out that there are no woman included in these examples? How are we to to learn or to believe that we can preach meaningful when we have so few role models put before us?

    • JonB

      would it also be uncharitable to suggest that a number of these role models might decline to appear in the same book as a woman preacher….

    • Anonymous

      Yes indeed – and distinctly white, middle-class as well (with a couple of exceptions). Simon Vibert himself is a member of Reform, an Anglican ‘complementarian’ grouping, who are often criticised even from within for being something of a culturally-blinkered ‘private school clique’. They’re all excellent preachers, I’m sure, but the lack of cultural diversity in this list doesn’t exactly defuse this charge.

  • “Don’t be bookish, but be people-ish.” – OUCH!