Paige Patterson: How I Preach

November 16th, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 0

Paige Patterson: How I Preach

Paige Patterson: And this is How I Preach

[Paige Patterson needs no introduction. He has been on the frontlines of the academy and the church since his seminary days in the 70s. Past-President of The Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, he is currently President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Paige has also served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I had the pleasure of interacting with (and being hosted by) the Pattersons during my recent Northcutt Lectures in Preaching at Southwestern. Paige graciously consented to my request to be featured on How I Preach. Here he is ….]

L. Paige Patterson
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Forth Worth, Texas

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
Preaching somewhere almost every Sunday, in the U.S. and elsewhere.
This has been my practice now for 40 years since departing my last pastorate.

Who or what made you want to preach:
I did not want to preach in the first place, but as soon as I was saved at age 9, I knew that God was calling me to preach. In retrospect, I am certain that God used the many revival and Bible Conference preachers that my Dad, Thomas Armour  “T.A.” Patterson, a pastor for three decades, brought to our church to influence my view and call to the ministry of preaching.

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
My father, “T.A.” Patterson.
Spanish Evangelist Angel Martinez.
Wayne Ward, seminary professor.
A host of lesser known men have also shaped my ministry.

Most used English Bible version:
New King James Version.
(I am not at all a King James-only type, but I am so old that I knew some of the 1611 translators personally.
Indeed, I even dream in Elizabethan English, so my commitment to the KJV is a matter of habit and memory.)

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
Pretty heavy. I never preach without translating the passage for myself.
When one can use the languages to really assist solidifying a matter in the minds of the hearer, they may be fruitfully employed, but never pedantically.

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without?
Logos and the internet search engines are what I use, but not extensively.
I depend heavily upon my 30,000-volume personal library.
Greek and Hebrew Bibles.
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.
A good concordance.
Two or three top commentaries on the Bible book I am preaching through.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:
I don’t think that I can reduce it to a word, but a phrase might work: wrestling prayerfully with the text of Scripture.

One word that best describes how you preach:
Text-driven or expository.
(The only actual method of genuinely Biblical preaching.)

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
Large computer screen (remember my age).
Desk before and aft is covered with books and references for research and comparison.
Greek and/or Hebrew Testaments.
A good English dictionary.

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I read an enormous amount of history and biography. From those I glean most illustrations.
However, I also employ a fair number of personal illustrations from my long life.

Tell us your sermon-prep routine.
Prayerfully decide on text.
Translate text from original languages.
Arrive at a conclusion as to the meaning.
Test that meaning against the conclusions of great commentators.
Garner three to five hard-hitting illustrations.
Outline the message.
Lay the completed message before God seeking his correction and the infusion of his Spirit into message.
When full, then unload message.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon?
Hard to say, since it differs greatly. But 5 hours would probably work out about right.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
Extensive faithful reading of the Bible as devotional literature, so that I attempt to have a deep grasp of God’s word.

What time of the day are you most effective?
Early in the morning; but as a result of my job, I end up doing much of my preparation from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
Not regularly, but when show and tell can be used to make a big difference in comprehension, I will sometimes employ it.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
I preach entirely without notes which I think was the prophetic and apostolic pattern, and by far the most effective approach to seeing men come to Christ.

Who critiques your sermons, beside yourself?
Always my wife.
Sometimes a member of our preaching faculty or another minister.

How has your preaching improved over time?
I have slowed my pace a little.
As my grasp of theology and of the Bible have grown, I am sure this is reflected in my preaching.
I have added a little more humor to rest the audience.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
With no stroke of humility at all, I am afraid that I cannot think of anything that I do better than anyone else, unless it is just being Paige.

What do you listen to while you work?
A wide variety of Christian music from classical to vocal quartets and everything in between.
My tastes are fairly eclectic, with a slight preference for hymns and gospel music.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Much more of an introvert but no one who knows me would believe that unless they know me really well.
If God had not called me to preach, I would be super happy sitting on the side of a mountain in the wilderness seeing one person a year.

What are you currently reading?
Jerry Bergman’s The Darwin Effect.
Anthony Thiselton’s commentary, The First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.
Friedrich Katz’s The Life and Times of Pancho Villa.
John Thompson’s Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can’t Learn from Exegesis Alone.
Kathy Etling’s Bear attacks: Classic Tales of Dangerous North American Bears.

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
That it is more important to love God and to love his flock, than to do well the various aspects of ministry, including preaching.

Exercise routine? Sleep routine?
Run the dog three times per day.
Wrestle with dog.
Scuba dive.
I used to go on 5 hours of sleep with no problem (see my age above). Now I must try to get 6 hours with a 15-minute power nap after lunch.

Spiritual disciplines?
Personal time alone with God is absolutely essential for me.
I use approximately an hour each morning for devotional reading of Scripture and prayer.
I read through a different version of the Bible each year.
Devotional time with wife.

Favorite food?
Yellowfin tuna.

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
Travel , though often that is related to my preaching endeavors.
Scuba diving.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ________ answer these same questions.
Jerry Vines, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida.

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

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