At Covenant Hope Church we primarily preach expositional sermons. If
you’re not familiar with that term, it simply means that when we preach, the main
point of the passage is the main point of the sermon. Brian is preaching through
the gospel of John, and instead of picking his favorite verses he is working
through every verse sequentially. Mark and I sometimes preach through a book
together, like Titus and Lamentations and sometimes we preach books
separately. But, as you can tell, we preach through books of the Bible. We believe
this is the best way for the church to understand God’s Word–both individual
books and also the one book. But one of my favorite preachers, Charles
Spurgeon, did not preach like this.
Preparing the Preaching
Brian, Mark, and myself spend some time thinking through the preaching
calendar each year. In fact, last week we sat together and prayed through what
we should preach in 2023. But Spurgeon was different. Here’s Spurgeon’s own
words on his preaching preparation:
“I confess that I frequently sit hour after hour praying and waiting for a
subject, and that this is the main part of my study; much hard labour
have I spent in manipulating topics, ruminating upon points of doctrine,
making skeletons out of verses, and then burying every bone of them
in the catacombs of oblivion, drifting on and on over leagues of broken
water, till I see the red lights, and make sail direct to the desired haven.
I believe that, almost any Saturday in my life, I prepare enough outlines
of Sermons, if I felt at liberty to preach them, to last me for a month…”
(Spurgeon, The Early Years, 189).
Spurgeon would spend Saturday after Saturday in agony, trying to find
the right text to preach. I must say, preaching is hard enough and I’m not sure
why Spurgeon made it even harder by searching for a text week after week. It
would have been much easier for him to just pick a book and preach a book!
Priority of the Word
Even though our preparation is different from Spurgeon’s, he was still a
faithful preacher. Spurgeon knew the Bible so well, that even though he hopped
around from Scripture to Scripture, he was still faithful to Scripture. There are
indeed different ways to skin a cat, so they say. The point of preaching is to
prioritize the Word and proclaim Jesus Christ–Spurgeon did just that. Though I
certainly aspire to preach as well as Spurgeon, I certainly don’t aspire to his
preparation process. I’m thankful that though he preached the gospel better, he
certainly could not preach a better gospel!