Eutychus :: Priming the Preacher, Warren Wiersbe
The most valuable lesson I learned in seminary was imparted to me by a professor who stole the idea from John Henry Jowett at an unguarded moment when Jowett was combing his moustache and not paying attention. "If you have trouble getting a sermon from a text," he advised, "just try to imagine how some great preacher would handle it. Ask yourself, 'How would Joseph Parker handle this text? What would Maclaren do with it?' This will stimulate your creative homiletical juices."
Well, last week I tried it, Monday morning I sat at my desk (while my friends were playing golf), I stared at my text, and I got nowhere. Then I said to myself, "What would Robert Schuller do with this text?" Immediately I thought of window panes, and my conscience stabbed me. I had promised my wife to help her wash windows. That took care of my creative juices for Monday.
Tuesday I was back at my desk (I'm very disciplined), and I said to myself, "What would Balthaser Hubmaier do with this passage?" Don't ask me why I thought of him, because his name flashed into my mind unbidden. I spent the rest of the morning scanning church history books and trying to identify Dr. Hubmaier. This detoured my creative juices; I spent the rest of the day dusting my library (church history books get terribly dusty) and rearranging the books. I still don't know who Hubmaier is.
Wednesday morning I determined to write a sermon if it killed me, and it almost did. "What would Maclaren do with this text?" I muttered. "No doubt he would find three points. He always said he fed his people with a three-pronged fork." The mere mention of the word "fork" started some other juices moving, so I crept to the kitchen for a snack. Before I knew it, my wife had me on a ladder helping her reorganize the pantry. I fell off and nearly broke my neck. That ended the homiletics for the day.
The rest of the week found me in panic. Thursday I envisioned Jerry Falwell and spent most of the day watching television. Friday I conjured up Martin Luther, and soon I found myself nailing up wallboard in our unfinished attic. By Saturday evening, I was beyond fear: I was petrified. Then I recalled that Spurgeon always prepared his Sunday morning sermon on Saturday evening. Immediately I calmed down, reached for a volume of Spurgeon's sermons, and within an hour I was ready. Spurgeon never preached better!
Thank you, Jowett! Thank you, Spurgeon! Thank you, Gutenberg!
Written by Warren W. Wiersbe
Originally appeared in Christianity Today, 1/25/80.
Used by permission. Not to be reprinted.