Pointers to Progress

Group of three short articles from the editors.


By: R. Allan Anderson

Voice students sometimes come to a section in their study where they consider "what to do with your face when you sing." That is a good question for a preacher. Facial expression is tremendously important. We noted one preacher who constantly began his sentences with a smile, but before the sentence was finished he assumed a solemn air. This was repeated time after time until it became wearying. A preacher does well to make people smile occasionally, for that relaxes them, but neither he nor they should be smiling all the time. Nor should he be always making them weep. The tradition that Jesus was never known to smile is false. If that were the case, babies and children would never have wanted to be in His companion ship. Children can read human hearts better than adults. Let us be cheerful but solemn as we present the message of God to the people, remembering that joy was a vital result of apostolic ministry. When Philip preached in Samaria "there was great joy in that city."


By: George E. Vandeman

"How does the other man think?" is a phrase that suggests excellent counsel for the worker who desires to improve his ability in molding opinion and reaching hearts. Unwilling as some of us may be to admit it, many sermons are unfortunately detached from the grass roots of average listener thinking. The difficulty is not usually that of our preaching profound or lofty ideas. More often our messages, however helpful, are clothed in the language of yesteryear worn-out theological phrases obscure religious cant coupled with a careless delivery.

Very good people will sit respectfully under such diction and delivery, smile when the preacher smiles, nod when he nods, watch him throughout the service, but all the while be planning dinner, resolving a family problem, or trailing a runaway mind. Outward audience reaction can be very deceiving among cultivated, polite people. Is it not, then, possible for the minister to be too easily satisfied with this surface approval and later wonder at the spiritual poverty of his people in the face of the run-of-the-mill Sunday-through-Friday temptations?

The men and women who fascinate and hold the minds of millions on the stage, radio, and television have learned through long years of studied discipline the arts of appealing, down-to-earth, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart public address, and for far less worthy purposes. Ought not their zeal stimulate our efforts to improve? It would be trite if not so tragically true to say that the delivery of God's message is worthy of the best in art and method.

Why not read Evangelism, pages 665 to 674, and follow this subject through the Index? Then thrill to the practical suggestions in Public Speaking as Listeners Like It, The Pews Talk Back, and the recent volume, A Man Called Peter, to mention only a few.

Making full allowance for the influence of the Holy Spirit in preaching and for the saving appeal of truth, you will find that such helps as these occasionally included in your reading program will prove invaluable.


By: R. Allan Anderson

Preaching is both method and content, and each is as important as the other. When Jesus gave the commission to make disciples of all nations, He also declared that the gospel would be preached in all the world. A tremendous statement indeed, for in the eyes of that sophisticated generation, preaching seemed indeed a foolish thing. The Greeks held in contempt both the message and the messengers. As a nation Greece had for centuries been the center of wisdom. In fact, everything was tested by the standards of her philosophers. But the wisdom of the world had led men away from God. Paul says it was by wisdom that the world knew not God. It was to that generation the Lord sent His preachers to bring a revelation of Himself to lost men.

Not only was preaching a foolish method, but the content itself was contemptible. That any good could come from talking about a Man who per mitted Himself to be captured, mutilated, and crucified! Why, to the Greeks that was preposterous. A mutilated body was an impertinence, for they worshiped the human form. That Graeco-Roman world contended but for one thing advance by the sheer strength of brute force or intellect. Love, mercy, and kindness were entirely foreign to the superman idea.

But here were the disciples talking about a Man unknown, untrained, and unlettered, as far as worldly wisdom was concerned, who declared Himself "the resurrection and the life." How could He bring salvation to the world when He could not even save Himself? Yet, as history revealed, it was that truth which turned that world upside down. And only that truth possesses the power that can save men. How tremendously important, then, is the content of preaching! Real preaching is not just a little homily, the building up of pretty little thoughts from some obscure text. No! not at all. It is the clear setting forth of the person of Christ in the glorious truths of the atonement. We have been told:

"The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers." Evangelism, p. 190. (Italics supplied.)

We deeply deplore the trend in certain churches not of our faith, that permits a preacher to take a text and then after reading it close his Bible and talk for thirty minutes on a lot of things that are not in the Word. We say that is "Babylon." But are we not exposed to the same danger? Is it not possible to take a text, or even a number of texts, and build up a clear outline to prove some point of doctrine and yet lose the real heart of the gospel? It is possible to "go everywhere preaching ^the word" and yet not truly preach the Word.

Only as Christ becomes the very center of our message, the goal to which we steer, can we be truly called preachers. To Timothy the great apostle says, "Preach the word," for it is only by real preaching that we make full proof of our ministry.


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