Preaching With No Unnecessary Words

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  • A veteran pastor took me to lunch yesterday.
    As preachers tend to do, we spent most of the lunch talkingabout preaching and preachers.
    The conversation continued as he drove me back to my office.
    The last preacher he brought up, as we were turning ontoBeaver Street, was the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge. Dr. Lockridge was the pastor ofthe historic Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, a well-respected preacher,and noted denominational leader.
    The veteran pastor recalled the first time he heard Dr. Lockridgepreach. It was at a Southern Baptist Convention event. He said it was thegreatest sermon on the Lordship of Jesus Christ he had ever heard. He notedthat the sermon was barely twenty minutes long. And he added one morecompliment… There were no unnecessary words in the sermon.
    That final compliment grabbed my attention. No wasted words?
    I have never heard any sermon given such a compliment. And Ido not know any sermon to which I could attribute that compliment, especiallymy sermons!
    But this is a worthy standard for preachers to strive for,isn’t it?
    There is a spiritual global warming that is slowly yetprogressively ruining the atmosphere of the church. It is the result of a greatdeal of pollution that comes from the pulpit. Our preaching is littered withtoo many unnecessary words.
    One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitlyspoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Translation: The rightword spoken at the right time is priceless! This should be our goal inpreaching.
    Of course, preaching with no unnecessary words requires hardwork. We must study diligently. We must read ourselves full. We must write andrewrite until our message is clear. We must determine to stay on message whenwe get to the pulpit. And we must pray that the Lord will use us to speak aword fitly spoken.
    Let’s join Paul who asked the saints to pray “also for me,that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim themystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I maydeclare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.