Christ-centered preaching is a topic of much interest among many young and aspiring preachers. As of late, the Center for Gospel Culture has been engaged in a series of seminars in which we have been discussing, examining, and demonstrating the nature of Christ-centered preaching. We are looking to help young preachers come to grips with why and how Christ should be rightly preached from all of scripture.
At our last session of Sermon Labs we discussed a few pointers for aspiring Christ-centered preachers that I thought worth repeating here. You see, it is one thing to listen to good preaching and know when a preacher has made a solid, exegetically grounded, heart-warming connection to the Gospel; it is another thing to be able to make that connection yourself. Here are some things that you can do as you seek to see Christ in and preach Christ from all of the Bible:
Read the Scriptures. In order to see how inter-canonical themes and the narrative of redemptive history run through the entire Bible, and how Christ is the fulfillment of it all, you must regularly read it, both devotionally and in devoted study. Familiarity with the ins and outs of the Bible’s stories, letters, songs, etc., is absolutely necessary to begin making meaningful gospel connections. The preacher who is not immersed in the scriptures, and meeting Christ there regularly, will not preach him well from them.
Recognize that it takes time. Going hand in hand with regular immersion in the Bible is the need for extended time therein. The Bible is a book that repays years of careful reading. While one need not necessarily have those years of study under his belt to preach well, the benefits of a life long commitment to the scriptures are countless, and a sustainable preaching ministry demands that we be in it for the long haul.
Rehearse it in conversation. Part of making gospel connections and seeing Christ properly throughout the scriptures is learning to articulate what you learn to others. Find like-minded individuals who are interested in Christ-centered preaching and learn to talk through, challenge, and mutually enjoy the connections that you are making in your devotional life.
Really listen to other preachers. We listen to many sermons, but often we don’t hear the sermons that we listen to. In other words, we are often captivated by rhetorical and stylistic matters, important in their own right, yet fail to hear the actual content, logical flow, and biblical fabric that is at the heart of the best sermons. To really hear is to break down (not cynically but searchingly) what we hear in a sermon, to plug it into the one story plot line of the bible, and to press it into our own hearts.
Of course much more could be said in recommendation, but these are a few places you might begin as you learn the nature, importance, and practice of Christ-centered preaching.
Stephen Um is the pastor and church planter of Citylife Boston, and the Associate Training Director for Asia and Australia for CTC. This blog was first posted at The Center for Gospel Culture, a site that features sermons, blogs and articles emphasizing the centrality of the gospel for all of life.