Jimmy Draper: How I Preach

June 16th, 2016| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 0

Jimmy Draper: How I Preach

Jimmy Draper: And this is How I Preach …

[Jimmy Draper is a well known figure in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He has served as its president in the past, and has led its publishing arm, LifeWay Christian Resources. Hailing from a pedigreed family of ministers and seminary graduates, Jimmy was prominent in the conservative resurgence of the SBC. He has pastored churches in Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma since the late 50s (and he is still interim-pastoring!), and is the author of more than two dozen books. I was grateful for his willingness to be interviewed, so here’s Jimmy …]

James T. Draper, Jr.
Interim Pastor
Cana Baptist Church, Burleson, Texas
President Emeritus

LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee
Itinerant Minister

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
I am now retired from full-time ministry.
Thirty-five years in the pastorate.
Fifteen years with LifeWay.
Currently interim pastor of Cana Baptist Church, Burleson, Texas.
I frequently do senior adult revivals, conferences, retreats and church leadership seminars.
I continue to mentor many young ministers and maintain connection with those I have encountered over more than sixty years of ministry.

Who or what made you want to preach:
God began to stir my heart when I was twelve years old about special ministry and by fourteen I knew God had placed a call on my life to preach. I preached my first sermon one week later on Labor Day weekend 1950, and have been preaching ever since.
My father and grand-father were pastors, so it was an easy transition to being a pastor since I grew up in a parsonage. I would have to say my father, James T. Draper, Sr., was the main individual used of God to confirm my call.

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
My father was a great role model. When I first surrendered to preach, he taught me how to outline sermons and how to begin to incorporate specific characteristics in my life that would strengthen my call to ministry.
He was my mentor and the older I got, became my best friend.

Most used English Bible version?
The King James Version until LifeWay came out with a new translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
Since I was President of LifeWay I felt I needed to use that translation.
There are some strong translations out there. We tried for five years to get access to the use and distribution of the NASB, but we were unsuccessful.
I regularly check the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version, but primarily use the HCSB.

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
I never became efficient in Hebrew, so do not use that language.
I do have access to some great books that deal well with the Hebrew.
I love the Greek and have retained enough of it to use it in building sermons and getting at the original intent of the Greek in sermon preparation.

Current computer(s)/device(s)/software that you use for preaching prep?
I use WordSearch Bible as my primary software.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without (books? software?)?
Bible handbooks, atlas, and dictionaries.
Greek dictionaries and a concordance.
WordSearch software.
I do not buy full commentary sets, but usually will get individual commentary volumes that deal with the Bible text that I am using for sermons.
I will often read sermons of Charles Spurgeon on the texts I use for sermons.
I am blessed to have my grandfather’s library as well as my father’s, so there are some volumes going back into the late 19th century at my disposal.
I also love word studies. If I am to take seriously that the Word of God is verbally and plenarily (I think I just made up a word!) inspired, then the study of the language of the Bible and the meaning of the words is vitally important.

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
Very messy! I spread it all out on a separate desk that is “untouchable” for anyone who is in my office!

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I do not have a good illustration file for use.
Most of my illustrations are from my own experience, or from the lives of other ministers over the centuries.
I often use research to get information about great men who have encountered challenges successfully.
I rarely use an illustration that was in a book of illustrations, or in some publication. For instance, I recently completed a book for ministers to encourage them to finish well. Many of the principles I dealt with were illustrated by experiences in the lives of others or in my own experience. I try to always document those illustrations well.

Tell us your sermon-prep routine.
The older I get I find myself working in more detail to be sure the context of the text is established. All Scripture needs to be viewed in the light of its original context.
Then, there is current application, but it all begins with the context. I love preaching through books of the bible verse by verse.
I am interim pastor right now and am preaching through Ephesians. The first step is to gain as much sense of first century Ephesus, its inhabitants, its culture, its challenges, etc. It is vital to remember that the New Testament had not been written at the time of Paul’s writing. I always remind myself of the context with each message. That is very helpful in understanding much of the biblical meaning.
Then I study the text and outline it before digging into commentaries or resources to build the sermon. That way, I have the sense of the text and how it breaks down before I get deep into the study.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon?
Over the years it has taken me approximately twenty hours of preparation to prepare sermons.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
Study the text itself and then outline it completely before starting the preparation for the sermon itself.

What time of the day are you most effective?
Early morning.
I was usually in my office all of my ministry by 6:00 am or shortly thereafter.

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
I will use printed outlines for the church bulletins if possible, but I have not normally used PowerPoint or handouts.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
Some notes.
I began to use more notes when our church went to three back-to-back services on Sunday morning. By the third service I couldn’t recall whether I had just said something or was about to say it!
Notes kept me sane and understandable … and confident that I didn’t miss something.

Who critiques your sermons, beside yourself?
I don’t have a regular, respected critic! I do have enough critics!

How has your preaching improved over time?
I believe the content and context of the sermons has become clearer to me.
I also have the gift of application. I want the people to apply the truth to their lives. I’d rather that happen than for them to be impressed with what knowledge they gained that was of no specific use!

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I am the best Jimmy Draper Jr. God ever made … and I just do my best to be me.

What do you listen to while you work?
Nothing. Silence is preferred.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I must be an extrovert because I love being with people and am very gregarious. I would rather be involved in the lives of individuals than be holed up in my study.
Fortunately, I have been able to manage both over the years.

What are you currently reading?
Bonhoefferby Eric Metaxas
Miraclesby Eric Metaxas
The Ten Decisive Battles of Christianityby Frank Mead
Inside the Revolutionby Joel Rosenberg
Epicenter 2.0by Joel Rosenberg
Agents of Babylonby David Jeremiah
What in the World is Going On? by David Jeremiah
Lectures to My Studentsby Charles Spurgeon
Storm Warningby Billy Graham
My Final Wordby Charles Colson
We Cannot Be Silentby Al Mohler

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
More practical training in leadership and building relationships.

Exercise routine? Sleep routine?
I work out twice a week with a personal trainer.
I now require eight hours sleep a night, in contrast to about five or six hours a night before I retired.

Spiritual disciplines?
Continual time in disciplined personal time in study, prayer and in my relationship with the Lord.
For me, keeping aware of others and contacting them when they experience some crisis or achievement, or just responding to a meeting with them is an important discipline.
I believe that everyone needs encouragement, and it is a spiritual discipline to make time to do that with those you come in contact with. I write dozens of personal handwritten notes each week, stay active with email and phone calls as I become aware of activities that warrant a personal contact.

Favorite food?

What do you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
I love the outdoors. Hunting is great for me because it gets me away from the phone and everything but just being in the wide open spaces and observing nature. Occasionally I will even fire a bullet!
Until I had back surgery I played golf regularly. I haven’t done that now in several years.
I love just spending time with my wife especially and we are together constantly now.
I love being with children and grandchildren.
I love being active (I don’t do “nothing” well)!

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see _______ answer these same questions.
Tom Elliff.
Michael Catt.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Doubt never means “yes”. It always means “no” or “wait a while.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
The joy and delight of preaching text-driven, expository messages has only increased with my age.
It is the greatest pleasure and meaningful activity I know. I am eternally grateful that God chose me to minister his Word!

[For the rest of this series, How I Preach (couple of years’ worth) see here.]

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