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How to Preach Strategically – John Leach

September 14, 2018

The topic of preaching can be determined in one of two ways—to attend to the breadth of the Bible and be disciplined by the lectionary, or attend to what God is saying to us now. But each has its pitfalls, so is there a better way?

This study explores the virtues and problems with both, and suggests a more dynamic way to consider both the regular diet of the congregation and the need to listen to God now. It suggests key principles and offers examples of sermon series along with resources for further exploration.

By ‘isogesis’ I assume he means eisegesis.


‘How can we discern in the readings God’s word for today?’ (the inspiration question). But my real question is more radical: how can we discern the Spirit’s word for the church at this time and deliver it without the hindrance of the lectionary, but whilst honouring the principles behind the lectionary? Had it been allowed I wanted to subtitle this book ‘How to ignore the lectionary well,’ because that sums up exactly my purpose.

So while we are supposed to stick to lectionary readings around the major festivals, there is some freedom to use series-based preaching. But how did this radical departure from normal Anglican practice come about? Basically because it was recognized that many churches were doing it anyway, so, ‘If we can’t police ’em, join ’em.’

I define devotional preaching as ‘telling people something nice about Jesus which they already know but which it does their hearts good to hear again,’ and in spite of this rather negative-sounding definition there is, of course, a place for gladdening people’s hearts with the old, old story, particularly when times have been hard and spirits are low. But there are other times when the church might need a harder, more challenging word, when we might have to say to the church, in the words of James, ‘My brothers and sisters, this should not be!’ Whether it is gossip and backbiting, lack of welcome, financial meanness or whatever, some issues cannot be addressed without challenge, and it should be an important part of a church leader’s repertoire.

I believe that a key principle will help us here. In the halcyon days of charismatic renewal there raged, in some circles, a controversy over the dif­ference between logos and rhema. It was claimed that these two Greek words, which are both translated ‘word,’ actually refer to two distinct things. The logos is said to refer to Christ, and indirectly to the written words of Scripture, while the rhema or the ‘word from the Word,’ is the revelation which the Spirit brings as we hear the Scriptures read and expounded.

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