Thinking of ingredients…

Staying in a holiday cottage for a few days, and wondering what to cook from the things we have brought with us. As I do so, I’m thinking also of those of you who are heading for a pulpit today. What are the ingredients of a good sermon, I wonder?

  • A humble heart. A preacher without one of these is a liability, not a blessing. We enter the pulpit not because we are brilliant but because God is gracious
  • A tuned mind. Like an athlete tuning his or her mind to those few seconds on the track, we are tuning our minds to these few moments in the pulpit. Other things which really matter must take second place, at least for now.
  • A Godly appetite. You may think you are the one who is doing the feeding, but you must be hungry for God to speak too.
  • Biblical nutrition. The stuff which really feeds on a Sunday, which gives energy for the short burst and sustenance for the long haul, is drawn from the breathed-out word of God in scripture.
  • Worldly seasoning. Some may be shocked at he word “worldly” in such a context. But the world is the place where we live whose inhabitants we are called to love. Unless the preacher sounds like a person who lives there- why would he be given a hearing?
  • Prayer, prayer and more prayer. A sermon less than soaked in prayer is like a recipe with undercooked ingredients – unable to satisfy and liable to cause more harm than good.

A certain radio recipe programme used to follow the list of ingredients with a little fanfare followed by the words “and this is what you do”! I shall do the same on a subsequent post – although, of course, it can only be “this is what I do”!

As you head off to feed God’s hungry people today, remember Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s words “who, when called to be a preacher, would stoop to be a king?” Enjoy…