Some sermons I love, some I hate. Some sermons lift up Christ, some miss him completely. Some sermons work logically through a passage of Scripture, others bounce around a variety of verses. Some sermons are entertaining, others a bit boring.
I am no expert on sermons, but I do have an opinion like everyone else. Today I want to point you toward some preachers who exhibit excellence in the field of preaching. These are men I look up to, appreciate and learn much from.
Rather than just listing the names of these preachers, I have categorized them into the reason why I appreciate these men’s sermons.
Two of the best exegetes I have ever come across are John Bell and Dale Ralph Davis. These men show a deep appreciation for, and unparalleled understanding of most Bible passages.
John Bell is the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. He has also preached at a number of churches and conferences in both the UK and USA. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities he engages in some teaching in Harare Theological College.
Dale Ralph Davis has both lectured and pastored. Most recently he served as pastor at Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He has also served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.
I have listened to these men both in the flesh and over the internet – they are well worth the time listening to.
I must confess not everyone appreciates an intellectual preacher. However, there are two men I believe preach with an amazing intellect but also in a very accessible way.
Don Carson is the first of these men. He is a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, serves as research Professor of New Testament and is a prolific author in both academic and popular circles.
Mark Dever is the second of these men. He is senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, as well as President of IX Marks.
Both of these men supplement their preaching with a lifetime of learning. Very few of us will ever have the privilege of spending as much time in study as these men have. However, this should not discourage us, rather it should encourage us to gain every ounce of knowledge that we can from these men’s sermons.
Wisdom is something that is easy to recognise when you hear it, but somewhat more difficult to define. Vaughan Roberts and Tim Keller are the two wisest preachers I have ever heard. This is displayed in their wise choice of words when preaching, their wise topics and approaches to preaching and perhaps most notably in their application of the Word.
Vaughan Roberts is rector of St Ebbes Church of England in Oxford. He is also currently the director of the Proclamation Trust. He has spoken at a number of conferences in Northern Ireland in recent years.
Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan, New York. He is also chairman of Redeemer City to City, a bestselling author and co-founder of the Gospel Coalition. Keller is justifiably renowned for his wise application of Scripture to our lives and culture.
There is no way to define it, but you will know you are listening to wise men when you hear these men preach.
Passionate preaching is something we all desire to hear, yet it is something very difficult to achieve. Passionate preaching that is edifying comes from a mind and heart deeply in tune with God’s Word. Not many people achieve this balance.
John Piper is one of those people who have though. John Piper recently retired from an extended ministry as Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He is also the director of Desiring God and an author of numerous books. Piper’s passion is infectious, and for that reason alone many preachers should listen to this man preach.
C. J. Mahaney is another preacher who is full of passion. He is the former President of Sovereign Grace Ministries and a founding pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. You must listen to Mahaney!
People are divided over the use of humour in sermons – I’m not. Humour is a great tool to use in drawing people into God’s Word. Indeed, many of the biblical authors, and Jesus himself, use humour frequently.
One of the funniest preachers I know of is Matt Chandler. He is lead pastor at the Village Church, Dallas, Texas and President of the Acts 29 Network. Of course it is not humour alone; he handles the Bible very well and comes from a religious context which makes his preaching and teaching more applicable here in Northern Ireland than most other American preachers.
Alistair Begg is another preacher who uses humour to good effect. Originally from Scotland his humour is very much akin to ours here in Northern Ireland. He has pastored Parkside Church for 30 years, written a number of books on pastoral ministry and teaches regularly on Truth for Life.
As you will have noticed none of the above guys come from Northern Ireland/Ireland, nor serve in Northern Ireland/Ireland. I suppose it is the nature of the beast, when you become a Christian it is the ‘famous’ pastors you hear of first and therefore they often have the biggest impact on your. Nevertheless, below are ten more preachers all from or serving in Northern Ireland/Ireland who I would also recommend listening to.
Peter Firth (New Testament Tutor at the Irish Baptist College)
Andrew Roycroft (Pastor of Millisle Baptist)
Gordon Walker (Pastor of Carryduff Baptist Church)
Stafford Carson (Principal of Union Theological College)
Trevor Brock (Pastor of Great Victoria Street Baptist Church)
Casement Moore (Director of Cornhill Belfast)
Johnny Carson (Pastor of Whitehead Baptist Church)
Ivan Watson (Pastor of Cavan Baptist Church)
David Johnston (Minister of Hamilton Road Presbyterian)
Colin Adams (Pastor of Greenview Evangelical Church)