Spurgeon was very concerned that his preaching address the needs of the people where they were at. He was actually highly wary of having sermon series, saying most preachers are not interesting enough to be able to hold people’s attention.
One of his great strengths is that he would always seek to be preaching Christ: preaching the gospel to the people where they were at and what their needs were. There was a great strength in that he wasn't simply trotting out material unaware of where people were at. But there was a weakness to that as well—because he was seeking to preach from a text that he believed was always relevant to what people's contexts and experiences were at that time, it meant that he wasn’t systematic in his preaching.
We need to preach to people where they’re at, but always with the context of the whole counsel of God in how we do so.
So he would go from one text to another. Though I don’t believe he did, the danger there was that he could become, by that method, a preacher who would ride his own hobby-horse. This is what I want to preach on rather than tying himself to a text and therefore being forced week after week to preach the whole counsel of God rather than his own agenda.
So his strength as a preacher is that he wants to minister Christ to where people are at in their need. But, there’s a flip side to it. There was always that danger that he wouldn’t be preaching the whole counsel of God in how he did so.
Holding in Balance
That means for us today that preachers need to, on the one hand, think very carefully: How, in my preaching schedule and in my preaching, am I ensuring I’m not simply preaching my thoughts and bouncing off some text that will work to preach my thoughts? How do I anchor myself to Scripture such that people are hearing the whole counsel of God, and on the other hand, be aware of the particular needs of my congregation—the people who I’m speaking to in this situation—rather than speaking above their heads?
So there’s a lesson for preachers today to be learned from both Spurgeon's strength and weakness. We need to preach to people where they’re at, but always with the context of the whole counsel of God.
We stand on the shoulders of the saints who have gone before, exemplifying how to live and love God faithfully.
What is preaching really all about? How should we approach it, as preachers and ordinary Christians?
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