Saturday, July 2, 2011

History of Preaching (2)

Another generalization that O.C. Edwards makes from his overview of 2000 years of Christian preaching concerns the qualities of effective preaching. As he sums up: "all truly effective preachers have at least three qualities in common:

  • a good mind

  • a rhetorical reflex...a native sense of how to get one's point across when addressing a group

  • personal holiness."

It is clear from so many of the individual preachers cited how these three qualities are highly significant - together. No one quality should be lacking - otherwise their effectiveness is seriously impaired. And it is clear in preaching history that "a good mind" is not about elitist education (though sometimes that helped - I was intrigued to see how significant Cambridge and Oxford Universities have proved)! Rather it's an ability to work deeply with Scriptural truth for the sake of ordinary people. Plenty of unschooled preachers have turned out to possess extraordinary acuity - like the early African American preachers.

Yet good minds are only effective when constrained by personal holiness. This spiritual quality of personal devotion to God by holy living is a remarkable hallmark of effective preaching. And, of course, good minds and personal holiness can only be effective when preachers have this "rhetorical reflex" that is sensitive to culture.

I am not sure that many local churches when considering the call to a preacher would place these three qualities in top place! It's worth pondering what other qualities should displace them!


Snowbrush said...

"Professor of Preaching"? I never even dreamed there was such a thing. Of course, it would certainly seem to have its place in the training of ministers. I can't help but think, however, that a great many of the ministers that I've heard must have gone to seminaries where such courses were electives.

Anonymous said...

Or have not attended seminary?