Michael Quicke: How I Preach

May 14th, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 0

Michael Quicke: How I Preach

Michael Quicke: And this is How I Preach

[Michael and I connected at the Evangelical Homiletics Society several years ago. This Britisher (with both Cambridge and Oxford pedigrees) is a perspicacious writer on matters related to preaching. Before his fourteen years at Northern Seminary, he was principal of Spurgeon’s College, London—the largest Baptist seminary in Europe—for about a decade, tenth in line to C. H. Spurgeon himself! Michael’s pastoral heart, international vision, and his conception of preaching as integral to worship make him a sage that all preachers must listen to. So here’s Michael ….]

Michael Quicke
Emeritus Professor of Preaching
Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
After 43 years of regular preaching I have recently slowed down to preach a couple of times each month as an itinerant preacher.

Who or what made you want to preach?
An extraordinary “call” when I was a very inexperienced lay-preacher in 1969.
I was testing my call to ministry in my local church. Preaching was not my strong point! Yet, while I was actually preaching it was as though I heard God say: “Michael, I call you to preach.” I’ve been responding ever since.

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
My church congregations have helped me to grow, especially in accountability groups where I have learned to take critique.

Most used English Bible version:
New International Version, but also the New Revised Standard Version.

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
My Greek is still useful in preparation but used only moderately in sermons.
Alas, my Hebrew is too rusty to be of use!

Current devices you use for preaching prep?
As I write my script I use my laptop and “preach” the words into the document so that I write for the ear and I preach to myself first.
I really value the flexibility the computer gives to editing.
When required, this oral draft becomes the basis for PowerPoint slides (using images, when at all possible).

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without?
After immersing myself in the text lectio divina (reading devotionally), I am grateful for a variety of commentaries (some on Kindle).

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:
Good question, but I haven’t a clue!

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
Very untidy indeed, with books and resources scattered over available surfaces.

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I am on daily lookout for these in conversations I hear, pastoral duties I perform, current affairs, news, books, movies.
Almost anything can furnish illustrative material.
I note details in notebooks, file details on my laptop, keep newspaper cuttings in large piles in desk drawers. Again, untidy!

Tell us your sermon-prep routine.
When not itinerant, sermon series have been worked out with other lead worshipers ahead of time and I blog details weekly encouraging the whole church to share in my work leading up to my preaching. (Surprisingly, people are really willing to share!)
Personally, I invest time with the text, lectio divina, that God may speak to me first.
Then identifying what God said and did in the text I spend time with commentaries. This is a critical part of the exercise before interpreting what God is saying and doing today.
Interpretation process also involves listening to the voice of Scripture today, while acknowledging other voices—personal, worship, culture and congregation.
As the main impact of what the sermon will say and do emerges, I spend time designing a sermon that not only carries the message but expresses our response.
And all the time I am internalizing the words so that the script that emerges can be left in the study as I preach without notes.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon?
10–12 hours.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
Start early in the week, keep the text constantly in your mind so that everything that happens to you can feed into the preparation experience. And when insights come jot them down immediately so that they are not lost.

What time of the day are you most effective?

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
Generally not, though when churches request PowerPoint I know it can be used imaginatively with images to complement the spoken word.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
I write an oral draft to ensure language is clear, structure flows and time is used well.
I internalize it as it is being written and preach without notes.

Who critiques your sermons, beside yourself?
In regular ministry I belonged to a covenant group where we reviewed sermons and the whole of gathered worship every Monday.
However, my wife is my most honest and sensitive critic.

How has your preaching improved over time?
I really cannot really tell; hopefully I think my spiritual journey, life experience and development of some skills mean that my preaching has matured and become more useful.

What do you listen to while you work?
I require silence always!

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Definitely more an introvert who has to go against character when I am in front of people.

What are you currently reading?
I enjoy biography: just finished Candice Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.
History: working through Arnold Hunt, The Art of Hearing: English Preachers and their Audiences, 1590-1640.
I revel in detective stories, like those by Donna Leon.

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
I would have liked more integrative help to join up my studies with worship, preaching, pastoring, and building community.

Favorite food?
Oh, a British roast dinner please.

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
I have a very sociable wife, so I have a giddy life of hospitality with friends and contacts for coffee and meals every week.
I enjoy walking, reading, gardening, watching TV (judiciously).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep remembering that your life is about giving God glory, not about gaining your own.

Editor’s Note:
Michael’s writings on preaching that I highly recommend:
360-Degree Preaching
360-Degree Leadership
Preaching as Worship

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

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