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Last week I wrote a quick blog on the types of questions a pastor interviewing with a search committee should ask in order to dig deeper into the identity of the church.

As I was writing that, I felt that there is a need for questions to be used by pastoral search committees.

In my limited experience with search committees I have found that they are made up of lay members that occupy positions of authority within the church. In most cases these individuals may be educated in the secular job world but are not thinking through the important questions they need to ask a potential pastor. Therefore, I have written 45 questions that every search committee should ask a potential pastor in an interview.

  1. How did you come to know Christ? Describe for us the situation and how your life has changed since.
  2. How were you called into the ministry?
  3. What is your view of the Bible?
  4. What is your method of Preaching? (Topical, Expository, Blend, Etc. – This should tell you something regarding the previous question.)
  5. What is your view on God’s Election?
  6. What is your view of Women in Ministry?
  7. What is your view on the Spiritual Gifts?
  8. What is your view of using those gifts in worship?
  9. What is your view on Baptism?
  10. What is your view on the Lord’s Supper?
  11. What is your view on Deacons and Elders?
  12. What is your view on Evangelism?
  13. When was the last time you personally lead someone to the Lord?
  14. If you were to come to our church, how would you encourage the people to practice evangelism?
  15. If you were to come to our church, how would you lead our church to reach out to our community?
  16. What is your view on discipleship?
  17. When was the last time you discipled someone?
  18. If you were to come to our church, how would you lead our church to practice discipleship?
  19. What is your view of missions?
  20. What missions experience do you have?
  21. If you were to come to our church, how would you lead our church to participate in missions?
  22. What is your view on Spiritual Disciplines?
  23. If you were to come to our church, how would you encourage the people to practice spiritual disciplines?
  24. Describe for us your devotion time with the Lord? (Time, Place, Frequency, Practices, Etc.)
  25. What was the last Scripture you memorized?
  26. What is your view on Church Discipline? Describe a time when you had to lead out in church discipline.
  27. What role do you think children play in the church?
  28. What role do you think teenagers play in the church?
  29. What role do you think families play in the church?
  30. What role do you think the elderly play in the church?
  31. What role do you think the small group ministry plays in the church?
  32. What do you believe is the role of the Pastor in the church? Describe your ideal pastoral work week.
  33. How do you think the Pastor should interact with the other church staff?
  34. Would you describe yourself as a team leader, a mentor, or a boss when it comes the other church staff? Why?
  35. If you have taken a spiritual gifts inventory, what are your top 2-3 gifts?
  36. If you have taken a personality test, what are your dominant personality traits?
  37. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  38. How involved have you been or would you like to have been in convention life?
  39. If you were to align with a convention, which one would it be and why?
  40. What was the last continuing education you attended? When was this? Why?
  41. What was the last book you read? When was this? Why?
  42. What do you believe is your greatest strength in ministry?
  43. What do you believe is your biggest weakness in ministry?
  44. Does your wife support your ministry?
  45. How does your wife support you in ministry?

This is by no means a comprehensive list. So feel free to add to it.

If you were to add other questions, what would they be?

Every once in a while I get a call from a fellow pastor friend who is nervous about going before a pastoral search committee. After receiving such a call recently, I kept thinking through the kind of questions I would encourage them to ask in order to learn more about the church.

So here are thirty questions that would help you dig down to the true identity of the church.

  1. What brought you to this church?
  2. What are the 3 best things about your church?
  3. What do you think a visitor would say was the best thing about this church?
  4. What are 3 problems your church is facing that need to be corrected?
  5. What do you think a visitor would say was the worst thing about this church?
  6. What has been the biggest conflict your church has faced in the last 5, 10, 20 years? Was it handled in a biblical way?
  7. What direction has the church gone in the past 5, 10, 20 years?
  8. In your opinion has this been a good direction?
  9. What is the churches involvement in evangelism and community involvement?
  10. If your church was gone tomorrow, how would the community be effected?
  11. What is the churches involvement in missions?
  12. If your church was gone tomorrow, how would the world be effected?
  13. What is the churches involvement in discipleship?
  14. If your church was gone tomorrow, how would the younger generations of the church be effected?
  15. What is the community’s opinion of the church?
  16. If your future pastor felt lead to adjust a ministry or implement a new ministry, how would the congregation respond to that?
  17. If your future pastor felt lead to adjust a ministry or implement a new ministry, how would he go about implementing that?
  18. What do you believe is the most divisive issue facing your church?
  19. How did your previous pastor handle conflict?
  20. What type of preaching style did your previous pastor use? (topical, expository, blended)
  21. Are there any topics that you would encourage your future pastor to avoid in the pulpit?
  22. Are there any topics you would encourage your future pastor to preach on in the pulpit?
  23. If you could tell you future pastor one thing that this church needs in order to grow, what would that be?
  24. Do you see any opportunities in your community for the church to get involved in?
  25. What do see as the vision for the church in the next 5, 10, 20 years?
  26. What did you love the most about your previous pastor?
  27. What did you like least the most about your previous pastor?
  28. Was there ever a time when you felt your previous pastor dropped the ball? What happened?
  29. What do you believe the congregation is looking for most in the next pastor?
  30. What have you been told to avoid with your next pastor?

Do you have any that you would add to this?

WebsiteBanner_RevivalAfter recently coming back from preaching a revival and then finishing a revival at my home church, I have had a few ideas run through my head on preparing for a revival. I have preached and participated in several revivals in the past and feel qualified to quickly spot whether a revival is going to be a success or not. What I have found is that a revival is thrive or dive depending on the preparation of the host church. As anyone who has been a part of a revival in the past knows, we are no longer in the era of the Billy Graham Crusades when hundreds would come out of the wood work to attend a revival. Therefore, the church must be prepared to reach out in order to reach their communities for Christ. Below I have compiled a short outline for pastors preparing for revival at their church in the hopes that it can be a great success and many will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Pray 

Prayer is obviously the most important thing when preparing for revival. Without the Lord’s hand, nothing will happen. Therefore we must lead our congregations to pray for the revival that is to come. Consider using a prayer guide or book mark in the weeks leading up to the revival. Make sure that the revival is at the fore front of the prayer meeting and every one is joined together in praying for the services.

    • Pray for the Lord’s presence
    • Pray for the speaker
    • Pray for the musician
    • Pray for the preparation
    • Pray for the invitations that will be given in the community
    • Pray for new life and renewed vigor for the church members
    • Pray for new life and salvation for the lost who will attend
    • Pray for protection from the enemy

 

Plan

Planning is a HUGE part of the revival preparation as well. One of the saddest things to see at a revival is when the attendance dives in the middle of the revival. So ask yourself,”How will we build excitement every night?”, “What can I do to give my members a reason to invite their friends?”, “How can I make it easy for my members to invite the community?”

    • Raffle Drawings – In some contexts having a raffle is a good idea.
    • Evening Events – Theme nights can also be fun. “Sundaes on Sunday”, “Dunk-A-Deacon”, “Battle of the Sexes Night”, “Pack-A-Pew Night” There are more than can be named here. Just get creative and think outside of the box.
    • Daily Invitations – What tool can you provide your people to make it easy to invite others they know? Post cards, Invite cards, what?
    • Spontaneous Invitation – How can you make it easy for your people to invite those they run into in the community?

 

Market

Marketing is a big part of today’s world and the church should be jumping in to engage those in the world. Don’t plan a revival only for your church members but use it as an opportunity to reach you community with the gospel message. Here are few basic and relatively in expensive ways to mass market to your community.

    • Flyers / Posters / Invite Cards
    • Banners In front of your church and around town
    • Direct Mail Out
    • Local News Paper Ad.
    • Local Radio Ad.
    • Social Media Campaign – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etc.
 Revival Flyer Example

 

Move

Move! That’s Right! Get Out There & Beat The Bushes! Sense you are prayed up and prepared, hit the pavement and see what God will do with you and your people. You will be amazed at how your community will respond with a simple invitation to church.

  • Door-to-Door Campaign
  • Invite Your Neighbor Campaign
  • Paper the town Campaign 

Now, I know this is not a comprehensive list and I am still fleshing out my thoughts on some of this but it is a start.

In fact, if you have some other ideas on how to prepare your church for a revival, I would love to hear about them. Simply comment below.

 

DyingToGrow

Personal Reflection from the Reading

Nathan Lorick, Director of Evangelism for the SBTC visited our local association a few months back and gave out this wonderful little resource to our local pastors and for that I am very appreciative. In his book Dying to Grow, Lorick dives into the struggles of the local church to share the gospel and what evangelism looks like for the local church.

Lorick begins his work with diagnosing one of the major heart issues of the church. This is accomplished through describing the apathy that has grown in regards to sharing the good news of the gospel by church members and church leadership in Southern Baptist churches. Lorick then takes the reader through some correction action for heart change and ends the book with some practical application for every church to reach the lost in their context.

This short book is packed with sixteen chapters of great information on evangelism for members and pastors. In my opinion, Dying to Grow should be in the library of every pastor of an SBC church. This resource will ask some of the hard questions that must be asked when leading a congregation on mission to seek and save the lost, and will give the guidance to help implement a much needed evangelism strategy in your church. I am grateful for Nathan Lorick’s work with this book and I am praying for his continued mission after the lost with the SBTC.

(Reading Outline Can Be Found Here)

I am in no way affiliated with Nathan Lorick or his publishing company. These are my views and my views alone on his writing. If the writer or publishing co. has an issue with this blog, notify me and I will remove it.

 

Iamachurchmember

(Photo Credit BobRogers.me)

Personal Reflection from the Reading

I am a church member by Thom Rainer is written to address the unbiblical trends that run rampant in today’s churches. Equipped with engaging stories from his past experiences as a pastor and his times serving as president of Lifeway, Dr. Rainer confronts these issues head on with easy and practical understanding. Dr. Rainer’s motivation for writing this book is to strengthen the church through strengthening it’s members with a real understanding of the responsibilities of being a church member.

Dr. Rainer should be commended for his work on this book and his efforts to drive every point back to the Bible. Because the Scripture is not entirely clear on the responsibilities of church membership, this is not an easy task. I found that in most cases Dr. Rainer took general commands for every Christian (I.E.- to love one another) and applies them to a membership context (I.E.-to love the members of the church). Although this is not exactly what the New Testament writers were driving toward in their writing, application of the Scriptures to life is important regardless of context.

In my opinion, I am a church member should be in the library of every church member and pastor. If our church members today would apply even half of the principles mentioned in this book, the church would take a huge step in faithfulness and see the growth from it.

I am in no way affiliated with Thom Rainer or his publishing company. These are my views and my views alone on his writing. If the writer or publishing co. has an issue with this blog, notify me and I will remove it.

(Reading Outline Can Be Found Here)

photo 1

Personal Reflection from the Reading

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart; How to know for sure you are saved. by J.D. Greear is a wonderful book for those that are working through having assurance of salvation. Greear knows the struggles that many face when they question their salvation from first hand experience and he shares his own struggles from the very first chapter of the book. I am sure that many who read this book will be comforted by his testimony as a Pastor who has struggled with his faith. Because Greear has this personal experience, he is able to explain with great confidence how a person can have confidence to stand firm on what Jesus has done for them.

Although I have not really dealt with this personally, I can see from a pastor’s point of view how this book is incredibly helpful in ministry. The book is chock-full of helpful illustrations and explanations that will help others to understand what it means to abide in Christ as Christians are commanded to do. (John 15:5) For this point alone, I would encourage anyone to read this book and be encouraged through the words of Pastor Greear as he explains what the Lord has done.

I am in no way affiliated with J.D.Greear or his publishing company. These are my views and my views alone on his writing. If the writer or publishing co. has an issue with this blog, notify me and I will remove it.

(Reading Outline Below)

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart; How to know for sure you are saved. J.D. Greear

  1. Baptized Four Times
    1. J.D.’s struggle with his own salvation
    2. The false assumption of eternal security
    3. The assumptions made from the cliché “asking Jesus into my heart”
    4. What he is NOT saying; Asking Jesus into your heart is heretical, We should not press for a decision when witnessing
  1. Does God Even Want Us to Have Assurance
    1. God wants us to have security of salvation through his love (your spiritual life will never really take off until you have assurance of your salvation)
    2. We are to have reckless obedience – You will never be able to say no to sin until you understand the “yes” you have been given through Christ
    3. We are God’s Children, Spouse, & Friend
    4. The Damnable Doctrine of Doubt; God is not simply interested in your obedience, He is interested in your desire & How can we find assurance of salvation? Trust in his testimony of eternal life, Trust in His work within us.
  1. Jesus In My Place
    1. John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” > 2 types of people mentioned; Those who believe and those who don’t. No middle ground.
    2. We must admit that we are sinners before God and we cannot receive salvation by our own worth or merits
    3. Jesus is the high priest who became for us what we deserve while we receive from him what we do not deserve
  2. What Is Belief?
    1. Real belief entails belief in action.
    2. Biblical belief is a new posture towards God. Just because we prayed a prayer does not mean that we assumed the new posture.
    3. Reducing Salvation to Ceremony – Doubt will always arise if you look to a ceremony for your salvation. You must look to Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith. Comfort can also be found in our current posture toward God. Are we in a state of repentance and belief?
    4. Present Posture Is Better Proof than a Past Memory – If you are seated right now (repenting and believing), there was a point in time in which you sat down (repented and believed for salvation). You may not remember the specific time but your actions reveal that you did.
    5. Salvation was obtained by simply resting on two “facts” God had promised about Jesus; He was crucified as the payment for sins, He was resurrected as proof that God accepted His sacrifice as payment.
    6. Do not try to find assurance in a prayer you prayed in the past. Find assurance in what Jesus did in the past. It is the relationship to Christ, which saves, not the prayer that signified the beginning of that relationship.
    7. Leading Children to Jesus; do not urge them to make a decision for Christ. Urge them to take a submissive posture to Christ as Lord. Do not seek a specific answer to a question.
    8. Salvation is Impossible Unless You Believe Salvation is By Faith Alone  – If your salvation relies on what you can or should do, there will never be enough done to be satisfied.
    9. Faith that looks anywhere else but Christ will not find assurance but incessant doubt.
  1. What Is Repentance?
    1. When we come to Jesus, nothing can be off limits. We cannot come with preconditions or limitations. To possess eternal life, we must be willing to let everything else go. We do not approach Jesus to negotiate eternal life; we approach him in total surrender.
    2. C.S. Lewis “We don’t come to him as bad people trying to become good people; we come as rebels to lay down our arms.”
    3. We can place nothing else before Jesus. We must be so committed to Him that by comparison even our most intimate relationships look like hate.
    4. What Repentance is not; Simply praying a sinners prayer, Feeling sorry about our sins, Confession of sins, Getting religious, Partial surrender, or Perfection.
    5. What repentance Is; Repentance is acknowledging that Jesus is Lord of everything as a matter of who He is. Whatever your disagreement with Jesus, He is right and you are wrong. This does not mean that there is no struggle in repentance. When those who believe the gospel fall, they renew their posture of repentance, re-embrace the gift-righteousness of Christ, thank God for the promise of victory, and get back up. Those who do not believe the gospel wallow in their failure. They soar with pride when they are doing well; but plunge into despair when they falter. Faith is not the absence of doubt; it is continuing to follow Jesus in the midst of doubt. Repentance ushers us into a life of greater struggle, not out of one. The struggle is proof of a new nature. Repentance is not just stopping sin; but following Jesus.
    6. Changes in desire – Many people feel the pull of God on their hearts and resist it, and Jesus places the blame for that squarely upon their shoulders.
  1. If “Once Saved, Always Saved,” Why Does the Bible Seem to Warn Us So Often about Losing Our Salvation?
    1. Salvation is not a one time decision but conditional upon our continued obedience. By persevering through tribulations, they enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
    2. Warnings ought to be taken at face value; however, if we fall away, we will not be saved in the end. But since those who are truly saved can never lose it, we must conclude that a failure to heed the warnings demonstrates that we never possessed true saving faith to begin with. These warnings help us not to take God’s grace for granted. A true believer will never be lost, but a true believer will never stop following Jesus.
    3. The Bible never tells us to analyze the wickedness of our or anyone’s hearts or to speculate about God’s electing providence. It simply commands us to repent. “If you hear God’s voice,” the writer of Hebrews says, “obey today.”
    4. The Real Doctrine of Eternal Security – Wayne Grudem “The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.
    5. Making Our Calling and Election Sure; We are commanded to labor and to strive to keep ourselves in the faith. The best proof that we are saved in the past is our posture in the present. Thus, our perseverance in holy living is not the basis of our salvation, but it is a source of our assurance.
  1. The Evidence You Have Believed
    1. The Proof of His Presence – Saving faith proves itself by inexorable changes it makes in the heart. The new, living heart is characterized by a love for God. When you have been born again, you begin to avoid sin not just because you fear punishment, but because it keeps you from God. You begin to seek God because you love God; you begin to do righteous because you crave righteousness. Your spiritual tastes have changed. Once God has given you an appetite for Him, you won’t need to be forced to seek Him. You couldn’t be stopped from seeking him. Your obedience is less about duty and more about delight.
    2. A Love For Others – Particularly believers. If we are not a generous spirit we likely have never been saved, or so lost touch with it we can hardly be said to understand it any longer. Those people who have experienced the gospel show it by becoming like the gospel.
    3. “But I still love sin!” – The presence of the struggle itself can be affirmation that God’s Spirit is at work within you. Often the strongest evidence of my growth is grace is my growth in the knowledge of my need for grace.
    4. It takes a village to identify regeneration – God gave us the local church to see ourselves accurately
  1. When You Continue to Doubt
    1. In that moment of doubt, keep believing the Gospel
    2. Diagnosis is Not the same as Prescription; The Bible never states that anyone will be immune from doubt, spiritual apathy, and severe temptation. Perhaps God allows his saints to struggle that way so that their faith will remain in his grace and not their righteousness. See your struggle with sin as God’s invitation to rest humbly in the gospel

Below is a research paper I did recently on the Life & Ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Out of all the time I have spent at seminary, I think this has been my favorite research paper to write. Through this experience, I learned how much more I like Spurgeon and how much I respect his work (or the work the Lord did through him).

I hope that this paper can be educational for you personal study and inspiring for you ministry. Enjoy! 😀 

The Preaching and Methods of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a 19th century Baptist preacher and professor, never attended any formal ministry training and was never ordained as a preacher, yet he became on of the greatest preachers that ever lived. Over the course of the life of Spurgeon, he published several thousand sermons, authored many theological books, preached to crowds of up to twenty four thousand, established a seminary, and received the title “Prince of Preachers”.  Although Spurgeon lived in a different time period with different cultural problems than are faced today, there is no dispute that there was something very special about the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. This paper will seek to examine the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon as a preacher and pastor by taking a closer look at the methods of the man behind the ministry and title.[1]

This will be done through a brief examination of the dedicated life and study of Spurgeon, the preparation and method of Spurgeon’s preaching, and the theology of Spurgeon.

spurgeon_chair1

Spurgeon Portrait

 

The Dedicated Life and Study of Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in Kelvendon, Essex, England on June 19, 1834 into a family with a long line of congregational preachers. As one would expect, growing up in a family of congregational preachers, Spurgeon’s boyhood years were filled with prayers and devotional time with the Lord. However, Spurgeon did not come to conversion quickly. Spurgeon wrestled with the concept of the presence of God until the age of fifteen. Then on a snowy night in a small Primitive Methodist chapel during an evening service, the veil was lifted from Spurgeon’s eyes and he came to know Christ. Spurgeon recounts this incident with fond words of recollection saying,

“Then and there the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.”[2]

The time before Spurgeon’s conversion was of no loss to the great Prince of Preachers. In his early years with his father and grandfather, Spurgeon was being forged into the avid reader and dedicated researcher that his future ministry would require. It was during this time that Spurgeon was introduced to several theological works from his predecessor’s libraries. One such work was John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, which became a lifelong companion for Spurgeon’s devotional reading and sermon illustrations. This time also built Spurgeon into the veracious consumer of books that he was. It is said that Surgeon’s library consisted of over twelve thousand books, including both religious and non-religious titles. [3]

It was also during this time that Spurgeon’s study habits were formed, which allowed him to read and memorize theories, illustrations, concepts, and principles that would aid his preaching in his future. Although Spurgeon was never afforded the privilege of attending a seminary or receiving a formal theological education, his pursuit of understanding the Scripture and the world around him is clearly profound. There exists no dispute that Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s dedicated study habits were imperative for his ministry. As a result of his wide range of study and constant consumption of information, Spurgeon was able to keep his illustrations and applications fresh throughout the tenure of his preaching career. Even though constant study was hard for Spurgeon, as it is for most, Spurgeon understood and saw the value of his study. At times, he would even show his disdain for it by commenting on his feelings for his study. On one such occasion Spurgeon said, “I scarcely ever prepare for my pulpit with pleasure. Study for the pulpit is to me the most irksome work in the world.”[4]  Although Spurgeon did not always care for his studies; he consistently pushed through to do what needed to be done because He understood the value and importance of the preacher’s study.[5]

“An idler has no right in the pulpit. He is an instrument of Satan in damning the souls of men. The ministry demands brain labor. The preacher must read and study to keep his mind in good trim. Above all, he must put heart work into his preaching. He must feel what he preaches. It must never be with him an easy thing to deliver a sermon. He must feel as if he could preach his very life away before the sermon is done.”[6]

Spurgeon’s study habits should be understood and adopted by all who take the pulpit today. It is vital for missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and preachers to dedicate themselves to the study of God’s Word, as well as the literature of the world around them for the sake of those who do not know Christ and those who are still being discipled in the faith. For those who do not know the Lord, a minister of the Gospel must be culturally relevant in order to communicate effectively the message of the gospel to those who are perishing. How sad would it be for a preacher to have spent all his life in books concerning the “deeper” theological issues, and then to go out and share the good Word only to have his audience shrug him off due to his lofty speech? The study a pastor is equally important for those who are in the process of discipleship in the church as well. It is far too common for a pastor to get comfortable in his pastorate and become lethargic in his study to the point that his illustrations are used so frequently that his congregation knows which one he will use before he uses them. This idle practice often gives the congregation a since of arrogance in their knowledge of the Word and the assumption that they have arrived in their understanding of the biblical message. Because this is not the case, a pastor must keep his study fresh in order to remain applicable to his audience and keep them captivated with new understanding and material. This is evident not only in the witness of Spurgeon, but also in the Scripture itself, as the Apostle Paul studies and relates to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 9:19-24.

 

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Spurgeon Preaching at Surrey Gardens

The Preparation and Method of Spurgeon’s Preaching

Spurgeon’s dedicated preparation and study also led to the formation of his extemporaneous preaching methods. Since Spurgeon possessed a well-trained memory as well as a wide range of study, he never wrote his sermons down beforehand. Spurgeon had other theological reasons for this as well. Spurgeon had a very strong conviction for the Holy Spirit to lead his message from the start. Spurgeon’s reliance on the Holy Spirit in his preaching is made evident through quotes such as: “It were better to speak six words in the power of the Holy Ghost than to preach seventy years of sermons without the Spirit.”[7]  Also, “You might as well expect to raise the dead by whispering in their ears, as hope to save souls by preaching to them, if it were not for the agency of the Holy Spirit.”[8]  Spurgeon clearly emphasized the reliance on the Holy Spirit over the flesh in the preparation and delivery of sermons.

Spurgeon intentionally tried to accomplish reliance on the Spirit in his preaching in several ways. First, was Spurgeon’s selection of the text. Spurgeon was not a book-by-book or verse-by-verse style of preacher. Instead, the famed preacher read a wide variety of Scriptures and waited on the Holy Spirit to make the Scripture that should be preached evident. As a result of this reliance on the Holy Spirit’s revelation of text, this often times led to very last minute text preparation. In most cases, Spurgeon did not settle on a sermon text until the Saturday before a Sunday service or in the afternoon just prior to an evening service. Therefore, Spurgeon clearly was versed in nearly all subjects beforehand so that he could preach wherever the Spirit would lead him. Once the text was selected and confirmed, Spurgeon briefly wrote a few notes on a sheet of paper and then went out to proclaim the Word.

The second evidence is found in Spurgeon’s strong desire to see souls come to know the Lord. Since Spurgeon believed that he could not draw men to the cross and that only the Holy Spirit could, he scarcely relied on the notes that he wrote down for his sermon. Instead he allowed the Spirit to lead the way as he preached. Corresponding to Spurgeon’s understanding of the Spirit leading the service was his high view of Scripture in the sermon. Spurgeon distinctly believed that the proclamation of the Word of God was the first priority in the service and that the only way for the sermon to be better would be to add more Scripture.

“We should resolve that we will quote more of Holy Scripture. Sermons should be full of Bible; sweetened, strengthened, sanctified with Bible essence. Bible hearers, when they hear indeed, come to be Bible lovers.”[9]

Spurgeon was not afraid to cover the obscure or hard topics of Scripture either. Whether Spurgeon was preaching against the sins of the day or his theological critics he understood the Scripture to be the pillar of his sermons. His resolve to preach the Bible and all the truth in it even lead him to preach obscure passages such as Job 6:6[10] in response to some of his critics of the day. Spurgeon said this in regard to preaching the full counsel of God.

“You cannot leave out that part of the truth which is so dark and so solemn without weakening the force of all the other truths you preach. You rob of their brightness, and their urgent importance, the truths which concern salvation from the wrath to come. Brethren, leave out nothing. Be bold enough to preach unpalatable and unpopular truth.”[11]

Although Spurgeon desired to preach the full counsel of Scripture, he understood that the Word of God is what called men to salvation. Therefore, one of the major aspects of his preaching was expressed in his desire for men to come to know God. This desire then revealed itself in the intentions of Spurgeon to preach in a simple manner for his audience. When Spurgeon would preach, he would recite the Scripture, explain the Scripture and apply the Scripture with his own thoughts and illustrations in a clear way that all could understand. Because Spurgeon himself was saved through simple preaching by a lay minister, he often refers to the way that he was saved in reference to this principle.

“If I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others may be saved by it. When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus, put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone.”[12]   

Spurgeon understood that his audience could not respond if they did not understand the message of the gospel. Therefore, he was intentional about making sure that the message was made as clear as possible so that no one could leave one of his services wondering how to come to Christ.

There are many applications that can be brought from Spurgeon’s example and heart in preaching. The first and foremost is the preacher’s reliance on the Holy Spirit in the pulpit. Whether a preacher works from his manuscript notes, an outline or by memory while preaching, it is imperative for him to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to both lead in the message and in the calling of souls.

With reliance on the Holy Spirit, the preacher must also have strong confidence in the Word of the Lord. The preacher must understand that his words and ideas are not nearly as important as the message from God, and therefore must take a back seat to the Scripture. This includes preaching from the hard to understand and difficult verses in the text. Pastors must be committed to preaching the full counsel of God’s Word.

If the pastor is going to be faithful in proclaiming the Word of the Lord, he must be diligent in calling people to salvation. The faithful preacher must imitate our Lord Jesus Christ in concern for those who are lost like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:35; Luke 19:10). With this being the case, the preacher must be intentional in communicating God’s Word effectively to His people. The preacher must be diligent to pronounce the Scripture and its application in a way that captures the attention and engages his audience to act according to God’s Word.

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Spurgeon Preaching at Exeter Hall

The Theology of Spurgeon

Theologically, Spurgeon was a bit of an anomaly in the realm of preachers for his time. Because Spurgeon held the free will of man and the Calvinist concept of God’s election in a balance when he preached, he drew a picture of the relationship of God’s sovereign grace working in relationship with man’s free will for his audiences. His understanding was that God elected humanity to salvation through the response of man from an effectual calling to salvation. Therefore, election and freewill did not conflict but worked together.[13] We can see this in the way that Spurgeon describes the elect,

“I am quite certain that God has an elect people, for he tells me so in his word. And I am equally certain that everyone who comes to Christ will be saved, for that also is his own declaration in the Scriptures. When people ask me how I reconcile them, I usually say there is no need to reconcile them, for they have never yet quarreled with one another.”[14]

Spurgeon believed that a loving God would not predestine anyone to go to hell, and so his approach to ministry was to give free gospel presentations to all who would hear the saving message of Christ, and then trust the Lord to elect those who would receive Him. Through this, Spurgeon was rejecting the idea that man was a fallen creature that could do no good, as total depravity would declare. Instead, Spurgeon’s understanding was that man through his sin has diminished the image of God, rendering himself unable to respond to the gospel without the saving work of God. Spurgeon explains his thoughts on this while describing the rejection of the Gospel by depraved man.

“Nothing that I know of so clearly proves that man’s heart is absolutely estranged from all that is good as that man rejects the gospel of grace, refuses divine mercy, and tramples underfoot the very blood of the Son of God.”[15]

In this theology Spurgeon held to the Calvinistic understanding of limited atonement with a minor tweak. Spurgeon understood the notion that the atonement of Christ would only be effectual for the elect, but that elect were those who called upon the name of the Lord.[16] Spurgeon affirmed this practice through his explanation,

“Our savior has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He has not said, “preach it only to the elect,” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads or put any distinctive mark on them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform. When we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.”[17]

This balance of election and free will is then continued in Spurgeon’s view of the perseverance of the saints. For Spurgeon, the perseverance of the saints was securely linked with the confirmation of God’s elect. Spurgeon often stated this fact in his sermons,

“We never preach the saving power of temporary, unpractical, unsanctifying faith. If a man says, “I believe in Christ, and therefore I shall be saved,” his faith will have to be tested by his life. If, sometime after, he has no faith in Christ, that faith which he claimed to have is proved to be good for nothing. The faith of God’s elect is an abiding faith. “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three” (1Corinthians 13:13). Thus true faith is classed among the abiding things; it is undying, unquenchable. If you truly believe in Jesus, it is for life.”[18]

Consequently for Spurgeon, the evidence of salvation is the continuity of faith in the life of the believer and the consistent rejection of sin. In Spurgeon’s theology, the perseverance of the saints is key to understanding the grace of God and the security of a believer.

“I have often said that if any man could convince me that Scripture did not teach the perseverance of believers, I would at once reject Scripture all together as teaching nothing at all, as being an incomprehensible book, of which plain man could make head nor tail, for this seems to be of all doctrines the one that lies most evidentially upon the surface.”[19]

Through C.H. Spurgeon’s unique understanding of the grace of God and the free will of man, he was able to preach the full counsel of God’s Word and also appeal to both the Calvinist and the Arminian believers in his congregation. His theology also aided him in his evangelistic efforts. As Spurgeon believed in the full sovereignty of God, he had full confidence in God’s plan and provision for him. Because Spurgeon affirmed man’s response was a sign of his election, he was able to offer the gospel freely to all who would listen without fear of the non-elect.[20]

Spurgeon’s unique perspective can also be noted as a theological position that focuses on the important value in theology. Spurgeon’s position claims both sides of what could be a divisive argument. His position avoids the conflict and gets down to what theology should be about, glorifying God. Because Spurgeon believed in election through the response of the saints, he viewed himself as the simple tool the Lord used to do His salvation work. Therefore, the Lord received all the glory in the salvation of the saints.

spurgeon-preaching

Spurgeon Preaching

 

Conclusion

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a uniquely gifted preacher who had an immeasurable impact on the world of Christianity. Even though he did not have a formal education or ordination, his commitment to his studies and to God more than made up for his lack of formal credentials. His commitment is clearly seen in his dedicated life and study methods, his preparation and preaching methods, as well as his theological beliefs.

Even though Spurgeon lived in a time period past with a culture dealing with different trials and temptations, the truth of Spurgeon’s commitment to God and His mission still hold true and have great value in today’s society. There is much to be gained for those who model Spurgeon’s values in ministry and the churches of today would benefit greatly from the godly men who would take up such a calling.

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Spurgeon’s Grave & Memorial

 

Bibliography

 

Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles. Orlando, Fla.: Reformation Trust Pub., 2012.

 

Pike, G. Holden. The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 6 vols. London: Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1892.

 

Spurgeon, C. H. Final Perseverance : A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 20, 1856 Penny Pulpit No. 2587. London J. Paul, 1856.

 

________. Lectures to My Students [Selections]. Grand Rapids,: Zondervan, 1962.

 

________. The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit; Sermons Preached and Revised. [London]: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., and Tom Carter. 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. Trade pbk. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1995.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., and NetLibrary Inc. A Defense of Calvinism. Pensacola, Fla.

Boulder, Colo.: Mount Zion ;

NetLibrary. http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=2009075.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., Susannah Spurgeon, and Joseph Harrald. C.H. Spurgeon: The Early Years, 1834-1859. London,: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967.

 

 



[1] G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 6 vols. (London: Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1892).

Steven J. Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles (Orlando, Fla.: Reformation Trust Pub., 2012).

[2] C. H. Spurgeon, Susannah Spurgeon, and Joseph Harrald, C.H. Spurgeon: The Early Years, 1834-1859 (London,: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967). P87-88

[3] Pike.

[4] C. H. Spurgeon and Tom Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People, Trade pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1995). P.162

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students [Selections] (Grand Rapids,: Zondervan, 1962).

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit; Sermons Preached and Revised ([London]: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969). Vol. 18 P. 485

[7] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.102

[8] Ibid. P.157

[9] C. H. Spurgeon, Final Perseverance : A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 20, 1856, Penny Pulpit No. 2587 (London J. Paul, 1856.).

[10] “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?” Job 6:6 ESV

[11] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.123

[12] Ibid. P.162

[13] C. H. Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism,” (Pensacola, Fla.

Boulder, Colo.: Mount Zion ;

NetLibrary). http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=2009075.

[14] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.64

[15] Ibid. P.55

[16] Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism.”

[17] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.63

[18] Ibid. P.139

[19] Ibid. P.139

[20] Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism.”

“The norm of our worship must be the Word of God, the Word that He Himself has spoken. As we turn to this Word, we see a pattern of acceptable worship, a pattern that is repeated throughout the fabric of Scripture from beginning to end. Scripture is, as the Reformers confessed, norma ormans non normata, “the norm of norms which cannot be normed.” That is what we mean when we say “sola scriptura”— that Scripture is the norm of our worship. There is nothing external to Scripture that can “norm” or correct it.”

– Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Post Modern World

Authority of The Word in Worship @AlbertMohler

“Any study of church history, and particularly any study of the great periods of revival or reawakening, demonstrates above everything else just this one fact: that the Christian Church during all such periods has spoken with authority. The great characteristic of all revivals has been the authority of the preacher. There seemed to be something new, extra, and irresistible in what he declared on behalf of God.”

-Martyn Lloyd-Jones , Quoted in He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Post Modern World, By Albert Mohler

Authority of Preaching for Revival @AlbertMohler

People warned Spurgeon that he would break down physically and emotionally under the stress of such expansive preaching. Spurgeon replied: “If I have done so, I am glad of it. I would do the same again. If I had fifty constitutions I would rejoice to break them down in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He added: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…. ‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’ … That is the kind of work that will kill no man. It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kills good ministers.” Spurgeon found strength in preaching.

-Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

The Work of a Preacher according to @CharlesSpurgeon