Iain Murray on what is lacking in modern preaching

One of God’s wonderful gifts to the contemporary church is Iain Murray. Minister, Author and lecturer, Murray founded the Banner of Truth Trust in 1957. The publication and distribution of “Banner Books” has been one of the chief instruments in the revival of gospel-centered Christianity in our day.

Iain Murray’s books and preaching have always proved helpful to me. I regard his 2 volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones as unsurpassed in biographical writing. Volume 1 was used by God to strengthen me at a very pivotal time early in my pastoral ministry and is one of the most influential books I have ever read.

So, when Iain renders an opinion on an important issue, I want to take it to heart. Today I received his latest “Murray News” email. Buried within descriptions of his recent travels and ministries, he offered his view of things that he regretfully finds lacking too often in contemporary preaching. They are not all equally important, but they are all worth considering. I pass along his short, provocative list for my fellow pastors and for future pastors.

Among things missing in too much preaching I regret the following: 1. Too often no distinct text is announced at the outset (almost as though a text is a boring way to start a sermon). But nothing is more important. In former times a preacher often gave out his text twice. 2. Lack of passion and urgency 3. Lack of on the part of the preacher; by which I mean, not faith in his message, but faith in Christ to enable him to speak in His name without dependence on a written manuscript. There is too much paper in pulpits! 4. Lack of memorisation of Scripture! We all ought to know much more Scripture by heart than we do, and especially preachers. An occasional turning up of a reference with the congregation is understandable, but to make a practice of it, and to fail to quote Scripture freely, is to diminish what preaching ought to be. 5. Far better to be short than to be dull! A number of eminent preachers could be quoted who did not think 20 minutes ‘short’ or unacceptable. There ought to be more variation.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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