There’s always room for improvement. The question however, is how exactly do we go about the business of getting better? Reading broadly and thinking deeply are sermon-building staples. However, most successful preachers will admit that learning from those who are effective communicators is one of the best ways to sharpen your own skills. Please don’t get confused. You are neither stealing someone else’s material or appropriating someone else’s style. The goal is to observe and adopt the best practices of effective communicators in order to develop and grow.
In my journey as a preacher and public speaker I have come across communicators that I admire. Some are more popular than others and all have their unique styles of organizing content and delivery. I have benefited from observing and learning and I believe that anyone who takes the time to study these preachers will also grow.
A few things before I continue:
This list is not exhaustive. Everyone has a favorite food, a favorite color and a convincing reason why their choice is the best. Feel free to add names to this list! The goal is not to convince you of the superiority of my selections. Rather, my aim is to select and study preaching models and mentors of your own.
I’ve categorized my favorites because, in my opinion, every speaker has their strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion some speakers are excellent at introductions but their applications leave much to be desired. On the other hand, some speakers may be geniuses at closing a sermon but their introductions may not be as strong. My categories are a way to help me. I hope they also help you.
My list stretches across denominational lines. I believe in an interdisciplinary, interdenominational approach to preaching because… why not! Inspiration and instruction can come from all walks of life. I can’t afford to miss the opportunity to sharpen my skills simply because of closed-mindedness. Neither can you.
With that being said, here are just a few of the preachers (and in some cases, sermons) I listen to and watch when I want to do my homework. Hopefully, this list inspires you to do some “helpful homework” as well.
To improve my introductions:
Dr. Joel Gregory “The Power of Being A One-Thing Person”
Dr. John R. Adolph “ Somebody Go Get Leroy”
Dr. Jeremiah Wright. “What Makes You So Strong”?
To improve my Narrative Preaching:
Dr. Gardner C. Taylor “His Own Clothes”
Dr. Walter Pearson “Empty Houses”
Dr. C. Wesley Knight “Things We Lost In The Fire”
Dr. Andrea King “
To help deepen my insight: (They help me notice the details in a text I may otherwise miss)
Dr. William Curtis “Where Myrtles Grow”
Dr. Donnette Blake “Nevertheless”
To improve my conclusions:
Dr. Charles Adams “Drunk on the Eve of Reconstruction”
Dr. C.A.W. Clark “The King Wants To See You”
Dr. Tellis J. Chapman “I Thank God for His Hands”
Dr. Henry Wright “Where’s Henry?”
To Improve my illustrations:
Rev. C. L. Franklin “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest”
Rev. B.W. Smith “Watch Them Dogs”
Dr. Fred B. Craddock “The Waste of Easter”
Dr. Haddon Robinson “Have You Heard The One About… The Case Study of a Mugging”
My homework has helped me. I hope it does the same for you.