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Preaching and Preachers

January 31, 2011

From my favorite book on preaching, Kevin DeYoung posts a lengthy quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones Preaching and Preachers on the tendency of young Reformed preachers to be dull and boring.  The quote in its entirety is worth the repost, and the book is worth the read:

I put next something which is meant partly to correct, or perhaps not so much to correct, as to safeguard, what I have been saying, from misunderstanding. I refer to the element of ‘liveliness.’ This underlines the fact that seriousness does not mean solemnity, does not mean sadness, does not mean morbidity. These are all very important distinctions. The preacher must be lively; and you can be lively and serious at the same time.

Let me put this in other words. The preacher must never be dull, he must never be boring; he should never be what is called ‘heavy.’ I am emphasising these points because of something I am often told and which worries me a great deal. I belong to the Reformed tradition, and may have had perhaps a little to do in Britain with the restoration of this emphasis during the last forty years or so. I am disturbed therefore when I am often told by members of churches that many of the younger Reformed men are very good men, who have no doubt read a great deal, and are very learned men, but they are very dull and boring preachers; and I am told this by people who themselves hold the Reformed position.

This is to me a very serious matter; there is something radically wrong with dull and boring preachers. How can a man be dull when he is handling such themes? I would say that a ‘dull preacher’ is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand them and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate. We often betray ourselves by our manner.


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