If you’ve spent time in church Charles Spurgeon is probably a name that you’ve come across. He was an English Baptist Pastor who is often called the ‘prince of preachers’. He was gifted as a pastor, preacher and theologian which has lead to him being celebrated by many many Christian’s today.
Over the last week I’ve been reading ‘Spurgeon the Pastor’ by Geoffrey Chang. The book outlines some elements of Spurgeon’s life, his doctrine, church practice and some of the things that he taught his students. I’ll do a full review of the book soon.
But as I’ve been reading I’ve been fascinated to read of the sheer volume that Spurgeon preached and how he did that.
Without going into too much detail, Spurgeon’s sermon preparation for Sunday mornings went as follows;
- Spurgeon would decide a passage to preach on and begin prep on Saturday evening
- His wife would read the passage to him as he thought and made notes
- He would consult commentaries and other written sermons (mostly of a devotional nature)
- He would make an outline, think through what he’d say, illustrations and applications. However, he would ultimately only take an outline into the pulpit and mostly preach extemporaneously (without notes)
Whilst this was Spurgeon’s practice, he encouraged his students to do something similar but he didn’t say it was absolutely necessary. Instead he urged his students, among other things, to preach logically consistent sermons and to make sure that they weren’t reading their scripts.
So here are just a couple of reasons why I will never preach like Spurgeon;
- I do not think well on my feet
In order for me to be logically consistent whilst handling the Word of God, my personal preference is to have a long time to think, pray and consider what I’ll say. When I’m explaining something it’s easy for me to forget that the other person hasn’t necessarily put intense work into understanding the topic or text. Therefore, I could easily speak in a way that assumes a certain amount of knowledge.
- I prefer to preach a full manuscript
I do this because I am able to fall back on it if needed. I don’t memorise my script, but I know it well. I probably could preach without it, but I prefer (for the above mentioned point) to have it so that I am communicating in an understandable way for the congregation.
So, those are two reasons why I will never preach like Spurgeon. Some might see both of those things as weaknesses, but they’re just reflections on how I can best serve my people. I’ll never preach like Spurgeon and here’s why I’m ok with that;
- I’m not aiming to be another person, or emulate their gift, instead my intention is to glorify Christ.
It’s hard to say, without knowing the man personally, but I think Spurgeon would agree that the main focus of any sermon should be glorifying Christ (that’s after reading a lot of Spurgeon)
- Most people don’t realise that I preach a full manuscript.
There are always those who dislike any form of manuscript, some even say that preaching in such a way can hinder the Spirit’s work (as if man could ever squash the work of God! However, most people know that when I preach it’s always to point them to Jesus, I’ve prepared with a genuine love for the listener and with a desire to see them grow in their love for and likeness of Jesus.
It’s normally for people to be put on a pedestal, it’s not good but sadly it’s normal. Instead of trying to emulate a certain person’s preaching practice, you should serve the best way you can and grow as much as you can in your gifting.
I will never preach like Spurgeon and I am totally OK with that, you should be too.
Most of the historical information about Spurgeon in this post comes from Geoffrey Chang’s book ’Spurgeon the Pastor’. Whilst my full review of the book is yet to come, I highly recommend you grab a copy