Preaching is Like Bricklaying

Jason Micheli —  August 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

8731787754_f6a4a8b42f_zA friend new to ministry recently asked me for advice on preaching…

I’m convinced that I would not be doing what I do today had I attended a church with crappy preaching when I first became a Christian. Or, if I still was doing this (God’s stubborn call and all) then I’m convinced I’d doing it badly had I not first been exposed to Dennis Perry’s preaching.

The best advice I ever received as a novice preacher came from Dr Robert Dykstra (my own personal Yoda).

Dr Dykstra said I should identify a preacher, whose style and delivery I both admired and felt approximated my own desired style and delivery, and to mimic that preacher.

The advice actually included the suggestion that I obtain or transcribe a manuscript of a sample from that preacher, memorize it, and then videotape myself delivering that sermon in the manner of the preacher.

In the same painters learn to paint by copying the works of earlier masters, the thinking behind this advice was that in mimicking a master preacher I would intuitively learn what makes a sermon work.

And then I would be more likely to create one on my own.

This is exactly what I did and to this day my own preaching looks and sounds an awful lot like the preacher who gave me that advice.

Don’t believe me? Listen here.

My preaching may not always be exceptional but I do know what makes a sermon work, thanks to this advice.

To a large extent, preaching is not something that can be learned in a classroom or from manuals or on our own.

It’s a craft. Like woodworking, painting or bricklaying, it’s a craft best learned by imitation and apprenticeship.

It’s no accident that most of the Church’s great preachers grew up in congregations where they listened to the preaching of great preachers.

Thanks to the internet and media libraries this mode of imitation is easier to pull off than it was when I was in seminary. I’d encourage you to find a master and make yourself their apprentice.


Jason Micheli


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