In the early 1970’s I was a young pastor just getting started in pastoral and pulpit ministry. A dear friend, not much older than I, a student at Columbia Bible College, gave me a copy of Preaching and Preachers, by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It was and continues to be one of my most cherished books. I now realize how timeless the book is. Preaching and Preachers should be read by every preacher and by anyone considering pulpit ministry.
I will borrow just a few of Lloyd-Jones’ words to stir your interest in this must read book, but also to share with someone who is reading a point of view on preaching that is slowing be swept into the shadows.
From chapter one, The Primacy of Preaching. Why am I prepared to speak and lecture on preaching? There are a number of reasons. It has been my life’s work. I have been forty-two years in the ministry, and the main part of my work has been preaching; not exclusively, but the main part of it has been preaching. In addition it is something that I have been constantly studying. I am conscious of my inadequacies and my failures as I have been trying to preach for all of these years; and that has led inevitably to a good deal of study and of discussion and of general interest in the whole matter. But, ultimately my reason for being very ready to give these lectures is that to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called. If you want something in addition to that I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.
The statement about its being the most urgent need leads to the first matter that we must discuss together–Is there any need for preaching? Is there any place for preaching in the modern Church and the modern world, or has preaching become quite outmoded? The very fact that one has to pose such a question, and to consider it, is, it seems to me, the most illuminating commentary on the state of the Church at the present time. I feel that that is the chief explanation of the present more or less parlous condition and ineffectiveness of the Christian Church in the world today. This whole question of the need of preaching, and the place of preaching in the ministry of the Church, is in question at this present time, so we have to start with that. So often when people are asked to lecture or to speak on preaching they rush immediately to consider methods and ways and means and the mechanics. I believe that is quite wrong We must start with the presuppositions and with the background, and with general principles; for unless I am very greatly mistaken, the main trouble arises from the fact that people are not clear in their minds as to what preaching really is….
From the Dust Jacket: Some may object to my dogmatic assertions; but I do not apologize for them. Every preacher should believe strongly in his own method; and if I cannot persuade all of the rightness of mine, I can at least stimulate them to think and to consider other possibilities. I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching, and the preachers whom I have enjoyed most have been very different in their style. But my business is not to describe them but to state what I believe to be right, however imperfectly I have put my won precepts into practice. I can only hope that the result will be of some help, and especially to young preachers called to the greatest of all tasks, and especially in these sad and evil times. With many others I pray that ‘The Lord of the harvest may thrust forth many mighty preachers to proclaim the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’ “
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in South Wales. He trained at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, qualified as physician and became assistant to the famous Lord Horder. He gave up his medical career in 1927 and became the minister of a Welsh Presbyterian Church in Aberavon, South Wales. He was there until 1938 when he moved to London to share the ministry of Westminster Chapel with Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who retired in 1943. This ministry lasted for 30 years until Dr. Lloyd-Jones retired in August 1968.