Walt Kaiser: How I Preach

May 15th, 2014| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 3

Walt Kaiser: How I Preach

Walt Kaiser: And this is How I Preach

[Walt is a giant—in more ways than one! Past President of Gordon-Conwell, he has been involved in every stripe of evangelical scholarship, dispatching his remarks, scripting his papers, responding to questioners, with panache and pizzazz, energy and élan, zest and wit! For the last forty years! I have had the privilege to share podiums with him at meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society. For all his acumen and erudition, this is one humble child of God, always encouraging, always irenic, always a delight to be with. May I present …]

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
President Emeritus and
Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testament
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA
Conference Speaker, Writer, Scholar

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
I preach intermittently at various Churches for weekend conferences and various groups.

Most used English Bible version:
I grew up on the King James, so I’m bilingual. But I usually use the NIV since they still control over 33% of the market.

Who or what made you want to preach in the first place?
The Lord called me to preach his word and to help end the famine of the Word of God. There is a huge amount of Biblical illiteracy going on in the west particularly and expository preaching is at all time low

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
I was influenced as a young man attending Pinebrook Bible Conference in the Pocono Mountains, PA, and hearing William Allen Dean preach his series on various NT books.

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
I use the original languages heavily. For my philosophy on that see my book, Toward an Exegetical Theology.

Current computer(s)/device(s)/software that you use for preaching prep?
I usually do not use a computer for sermon preparation until I am asked to put the teaching in book form. I did not grow up with these new contraptions.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:
With “passion” and “humor.” [AK: That’s two words, Walt!]

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without (books? software?)?
The original languages.

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I am weak on illustrations since I do not invest in books of stories.

Tell us your sermon-prep routine?
Read the text through five or more times in English.
Look for the key verse or clause which will give me the subject or title for my message.
Lay the text out in paragraphs if it is prose, in scenes if it is narrative, and so on.
Find a key homiletical keyword which is a noun that is plural and is abstract.
Generate a sermon outline that answers the an interrogative (Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?) and fits the homiletical keyword.
Create a strong conclusion that calls for a change in our lives.

What’s your best timesaving trick?
Pray as much as you study.

What time of the day are you most effective?

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
I use both PowerPoint and handouts.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
I use an outline of notes for most messages.

Who critiques your sermon, besides yourself?
My wife used to before she went home to be with the Lord earlier this year.

How has your preaching improved over time?
You must ask those who listen to me.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I am unable to say.

What do you listen to while you work?
The Lord.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Who knows?

What are you currently reading?
Material on Christian anti-Zionism and the early Church.

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
More time learning to exegete biblical texts.

Sleep routine?
In bed at 9:00 pm. Up at 5:15 am.

Spiritual disciplines?
Read through the Bible each year.
An hour or so a day in prayer.

Favorite food?
“See-food”: when I see it, I eat it.

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
A bit of gardening.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ try to answer these same questions.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep praying!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I have told you everything!

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


  1. Eric May 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I had the pleasure of learning from him in February during a Bible Study Fellowship Leaders’ Retreat. I certainly enjoyed his no-nonsense advices and one-of-a-kind wit. And the answers he gave here show that as well.

    In one of the message during the retreat, he told us that many had urged him to study the New Testament more, thinking that he focused too much on the Old Testament. They even gave him books and over time those filled a whole bookshelf. When he was asked later how he liked the New Testament, he said, “I like it; it reminds me of the Old Testament.” 🙂

    • Abe Kuruvilla May 16, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Thanks, Eric.

      Yes, I’ve heard him use that one-liner before.

      Another favorite of his is: “I am neither a prophet or a son of a prophet. I’m non-profit!”

      “One-of-a-kind wit” is right!

      Walt is a great guy!


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