With a theme of “Preaching to Build Believers,” the third annual National Conference on Preaching drew more than 350 participants for three days of inspiration and insight in Orlando.
One new program element this year was the addition of the National Conference for Ministry Wives, which ran parallel to the preaching conference.
Participants heard a series of theme-based addresses, plus a variety of sermons and workshops led by a variety of outstanding preachers and teachers. Here are selected excerpts from conference presentations. (A selection of sermon illustrations from NCP III will be found in this issue’s “To Illustrate” column, which begins on page 47.)
James Earl Massey
Dean, Anderson School of Theology
Anderson, Indiana
“Preaching, at its best, is a ministry action that blesses and builds … by meeting specific and identifiable needs.
“The end result is the building up of a life. The building takes place by shared insights. It takes place by promoting change, by granting the building blocks that provide emotional release…. The building takes place by providing answers to questions raised by life.”
“Store the scriptures away in your memory. When you need them they will be there. The Holy Spirit has a way of tapping the memory store and bringing to our consciousness that which the Lord wants us to use. Never trust your memory; trust the Holy Spirit.”
“Hermeneutics is nothing more nor less than using methods to search out the meaning of a scripture text…. The focus is usually on what the authors intended to be understood by what they wrote.”
Stuart Briscoe
Pastor, Elmbrook Church
Waukesha, Wisconsin
“The thing that’s particularly interesting to me is that when we look at this church in Jerusalem (in Acts 2), preaching was clearly very important….There is absolutely no escaping this fact: that when we look at this powerful prototype of a church, preaching figured largely in it.”
“They are now telling us, these communications experts, that preaching is one of the least effective means of communication — that what we really need to do is foster relationships with people, where there is opportunity for dialogue, where there is opportunity for listening, for discussing, where there is opportunity for watching, and for people to discover things for themselves. So we have to face up to the fact that while preachers might be terribly enthusiastic about preaching, there are many cynical people out there saying this is not a particularly effective way of communications, and besides, we don’t particularly like this authoritative person telling us authoritatively what to do.
“What are we to say to this? We have to agree that they have a point. We are not authoritative persons, that we are not necessarily filling an authoritative office, but that we are standing on an authoritative Word.”
Steve Brown
Director, Key Life Network
Key Biscayne, Florida
“I came to that place in my life where I knelt down by the desk at a study in a suburb of Boston and I said, ‘God, I’m not good but I’m yours. I have no authority, and the only authority I know about — and I have doubts about that — is the Bible. So I’m gonna fake it till I make it; this will be my authority.’ I knew nothing about the Bible, so in those early days I taught the congregation by teaching myself. I would read a verse and tell them what I thought it meant, then I would read another verse and tell them what I thought it meant. Then I noticed that something was happening in the congregation — that God’s Word really doesn’t come back void.”
“Assuming that God has given you a modicum of personality, you ought to use that in your preaching. Don’t mimic anybody else, don’t copy a homiletics teacher who wrote a homiletics book…. One problem is that we’re spending too much time on ‘how-to’s’ and not enough on getting close to the fire and setting ourselves on fire.”
Gardner C. Taylor
Pastor Emeritus,
Concord Baptist Church of Christ
Brooklyn, New York
“It is a thorny and difficult matter to address people in terms of that judgment which is both coming and is at hand, which I take to be the heart of what prophetic preaching is all about. It is a foretelling sometimes, it is a forth-telling, of the judgment and mercy of God upon individuals and upon people in their corporate lives.”
“I think that a long preaching career can be better sustained in preaching up out of the Bible rather than to it. Those of us who study the scripture and have been trained in seminary learn so many things about the Bible that we never learn it. We scurry around trying to find a text on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday or even Sunday morning. But it is not a book of texts; rather, it is a textbook. I don’t think that we are prepared to get at the preaching of the gospel, each for himself or herself, until we have a sense of scripture.”
William Hinson
Pastor,
First United Methodist Church
Houston, Texas
“We once believed, perhaps erroneously, that if we love someone they can’t preach a bad sermon — but that isn’t so. We take care of our people through our preaching, and preaching is the only pastoral care some people — who haven’t suffered a crisis — ever receive.”
“At best, pastoral preaching is giving God’s answers on Sunday to the questions the people have been raising with us all week long. And in order to address those questions from the perspective of scripture, we must understand what the issues are in the lives of our people.”
Francis C. Rossow
Professor of Preaching,
Corcordia Seminary
St. Louis, Missouri
“You and I as preachers create the medium but we do not create the message. The message is a given; the gospel is God’s gift to us and we neither add to that nor subtract from it. But we do create the package in which that gift is given to people. We wrap it attractively, we tie a ribbon around it, so that the recipient approaches God’s gift of the gospel with eagerness and anticipation and excitement — with trembling fingers, saying ‘What’s in this package for me?’ And what is in it is entirely God’s, not ours.”
“A sermon must do more than interest but it must at least do that. To interest is the first duty of preaching. Not the only duty, not even first in importance, but first chronologically. You’ve got to first of all get people’s attention, and then you’ve got to have something to give them.
“Creativity in preaching is a prerequisite, not a goal. We are creative in order to preach; we do not preach in order to be creative.”
The fourth annual National Conference on Preaching is scheduled for February 18-20, 1992, in the historic First United Methodist Church of Houston, Texas. Many program leaders are already committed, including:
– Haddon Robinson, President, Denver Seminary
– William Willimon, Dean of the Chapel, Duke University
– B. Clayton Bell, Pastor, Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas
– Calvin Miller, Pastor, Westside Church, Omaha, Nebraska
– William Hinson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas
– Barbara Taylor, Associate Pastor, All Saints Church, Atlanta, Georgia
– William Turner, Pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
The Hyatt Regency-Houston, located just three blocks from the conference site, is the headquarters hotel for NCP IV. The Hyatt is offering a deeply-discounted conference rate of just $69 per room.
For information on advance registration, call (800) 288-9673, or write: National Conference on Preaching, 1529 Cesery Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32211.

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