Midwestern Seminary hosted its third For the Church Workshop on Sept. 18 – featuring President Jason Allen as lecturer and focusing on the topic of preaching.
The purpose of the three-part discussion, according to Allen, was to maintain the institution’s focus on serving local churches and the seminary community by intentionally providing encouraging and applicable sessions covering relevant subjects.
Allen’s first session was a chapel sermon entitled, “Four Marks of Faithful Preaching,” derived from 2 Timothy 4: 1-5, and a passage which Allen said deeply affected him early in his ministry as he explored the question, “What does it mean to preach?”
He noted that the passage, over the ages, has been a charge to most every preacher of the gospel.
“We receive it. We identify with it. We find ourselves being simultaneously charged by it and encouraged by it,” Allen said. “It’s our charge as well to preach the word. It’s a reminder that regardless of what is or isn’t happening favorably or unfavorably in the culture, regardless of what the church is doing or not doing or what church members are appreciating or not appreciating, this charge stands clear. It stands firm. Preach the Word.”
Preaching biblically is the first, indispensable mark of faithful preaching, Allen explained. The pastor is to preach the word of God, to herald, to lift one’s voice, to proclaim, to speak boldly, even loudly.
The reason for preaching the word, Allen said is because the Scriptures search us, and the Scriptures search our people, unlike any other message we have to preach. Therefore, we must proclaim them.
The second mark of faithful preaching, Allen said, is to preach authoritatively, which means to be equipped and ready to act.
“This means whether it’s popular or not, whether your hearers want to hear it or not, and frankly, whether you as preacher feel like preaching it or not, be ready in season and out of season to do three things: reprove, rebuke, exhort,” Allen said.
The third and fourth marks of faithful preaching, Allen said, include preaching pastorally and preaching persistently.
To the point of pastoral preaching, Allen noted that a pastor should be aware of what’s at stake. Congregants depart from doctrine easily, and often the end result is devastation.
“The reality is you have about 40 minutes—maybe a little less, maybe a little more—on any given Sunday to try to preach a week’s worth of nonsense, cultural confusion, bad televangelists, and everything else that has gone in their ears and before their eyes and into their hearts that week out of them. It’s urgent. These are real people who we know, whom we serve, and so we want to speak with patience and instruction, but we do that out of a heart of protection—wanting to guard the flock, to guard the sheep.”
To view Allen’s entire message, visit mbts.edu/2019/09/chapel-with-dr-jason-allen/.
The workshop’s second and third sessions were lectures based off of Allen’s recently-released book, Letters to My Students: Volume 1.
The 175-page work—which was inspired by Allen’s interest in and interactions with the book Lectures to My Students by renowned British pastor C.H. Spurgeon—is the first of a three-volume series that aims to be a biblical, accessible guide for ministers and ministers-in-training.
Within the book, Allen explains in three broader categories of how one prepares for the calling to preach, how the preacher then prepares his sermons and, lastly, how the preacher progresses and grows in the art of preaching.
Based on these concepts, Allen focused his afternoon sessions on “five aspects of a theology of preaching” and “five steps of sermon preparation.”
In the second session, Allen posited that who preaches, why one preaches, what is preached, and how one preaches the word are predetermined phenomena. As such, it is God who calls the preacher to preach—not a seminary, agency, or denomination. God chose preaching as the method by which his message is expressed, and God predetermined his Word, the text, as what will be preached. Allen also explained that he feels expository preaching is the best answer to “how” one rightly preaches the Word.
Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said preaching is the highest, greatest, and most glorious of all callings, Allen said if we believe that, then it demands that we think very intentionally about who we are as a preacher, about what preaching is, and it necessitates us to think carefully about a theology of preaching.
As such, Allen covered topics including the depravity of man, the power of Scripture, the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit, the mandate of expository preaching, and the spiritual life of the preacher.
Regarding the last point, Allen explained, “I am convinced that the spiritual life of the preacher is germane to the overall success and authority of the sermon. The preacher must cultivate a holy life… God wants his vessel to be clean all the way to the inner most being, all the way to the preacher’s heart. A man’s personal life and discipline can make or break his preaching ministry…”
The workshop’s final session explored a more practical side of ministry, as Allen walked the audience through five steps for preparing a sermon. Those steps included familiarization with the text, interpretation of the passage, assimilation into a manuscript, amplifying the message, and the proclamation of the message.
To view the afternoon sessions, visit: mbts.edu/category/ftc-workshop/
The next FTC Workshop will take place on Oct. 2 and will feature Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Seminary. He will lecture will be based off his new book, Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind.