John Koessler: How I Preach

June 15th, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 0

John Koessler: How I Preach

John Koessler: And this is How I Preach …

[John is a fellow Evangelical Homiletics Society (EHS) member, and a fellow teacher of preaching (at Moody Bible Institute). Prolific writer, insightful preacher, with an enviable dry sense of humor, John’s writing and speaking are well worth attending to. Even the papers he presents at EHS, the book reviews and articles he writes for the Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society and other journals, and his radio appearances, are perspicacious, precise, and provocative. Before Moody, where he’s been for over two decades, he was pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois. He brings experience, wisdom, and a pastoral heart. Here’s John ….]

John Koessler
Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies
Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
I serve full time on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute (21 years).
When I preach it is usually as pulpit supply or in the school’s chapel.

Who or what made you want to preach:
I felt the desire to do so in my early 20s. I was a young Christian at the time and began preaching in the Christian coffee house that I attended (though not very well). But the more I preached the more compelled I felt to preach. That desire eventually led me to enter pastoral ministry.

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
Mostly the pastors of the churches I attended, especially Ron Seck who was pastor of the church that ordained me.

Most used English Bible version:
Mostly the New International Version.

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
Probably moderate. I generally don’t translate the entire passage but I do consider the biblical languages in exegesis.

Current devices you use for preaching prep?
I use a basic search program. I am not a heavy user of Bible software, mostly because it’s too expensive and has too much that I don’t need.

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without?
It’s hard to say. I rely on my personal library for reference sources. It’s basic—not exhaustive.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
Messy. I tend to leave my books out after I’ve consulted them.

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I start with my own experience and then look to other sources (books and articles and web sites).

Tell us your sermon-prep routine.
I begin by spending time in the text.
I formulate a sermon idea and a preliminary outline.
Then I begin developing the outline by stages (exposition of the text and its implication).
I manuscript my sermons, so I actually write them out.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon?
12–15 hours.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
Steal Abe Kuruvilla’s sermons.
[Editor’s note: Hey!]

What time of the day are you most effective?

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
I don’t use slides or handouts when I preach.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
I use a manuscript and usually preach it verbatim.

Who critiques your sermons, beside yourself?
I am my worst critic. I ask my wife for input.

How has your preaching improved over time?
I’m not sure it has. I suppose it has become more narrative.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
My strength is probably in the area of language (i.e., the words I use).

What do you listen to while you work?
I don’t—it distracts me.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I am an introvert.

What are you currently reading?
James K. A. Smith’s How Not to be Secular: Reaching Charles Taylor.
And along with it, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (but not doing very well).

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
I feel good about what I learned in seminary. I don’t have many regrets.

Exercise routine? Sleep routine?
I try to exercise daily. It probably turns out to be every other day. I tend to go to be around 9:30 pm but I have trouble sleeping at night.

Spiritual disciplines?
I am not very rigid in this area.

Favorite food?
Steak or pizza.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ________ answer these same questions.
Martyn Lloyd Jones (but that would be a very-long-distance call).
Among the living perhaps Tim Keller.

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
I write.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Make it your ambition to mind your own business and work with your hands (from the Apostle Paul by way of my wife Jane).

Anything else you’d like to add?
Abe Kuruvilla is my favorite homiletics professor.
[Editor’s note: OK, you can have my sermons!]

[For the archives of this series, How I Preach, see here.]

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