A Note on Why We Preach: Phillips Brooks


Here’s a thought to any preachers who might happen by this way or anyone else who might wish to understand why preachers do what preachers do. I suppose there are many reasons we could list, those of us who preach, for what why we preach. I like this one tonight.

There is a power which lies at the centre of all success in preaching, and whose influence reaches out to the circumference, and is essential everywhere. Without its presence we cannot imagine the most brilliant talents making a preacher of the Gospel in the fullest sense. Where it is largely present it is wonderful how many deficiencies count for nothing. It has the characteristics which belong to all the most essential powers. It is able to influence the whole life as one general and pervading motive; and it can also press on each particular action with peculiar force. Under its compulsion a man first becomes a preacher, and every sermon that he preaches is more or less consciously shaped by its pressure; as the whole round world and each round atom are shaped and held in shape by the same laws. Without this power preaching is almost sure to become either a struggle of ambition or a burden of routine. With it preaching is an ever fresh delight. The power is the value of the human soul, felt by the preacher, and inspiring all his work. (Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, 255-256. Delivered a the Divinity School of Yale College, 1877, published by E. P. Dutton & Co in 1877.)

Rather easy it is to get consumed by what we do instead of the reason (s) why we do it. I hope all of our preaching is done because we love those to whom we preach the good news. I pray that those who hear the good new of Jesus Christ will understand this love, and the value of their life.


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