John Wesley’s Advice – Part 3

Continuing our walk through twelve points of advice from John Wesley.  So far we’ve looked at numbers 1-2, and numbers 3-5.  Let’s move on…

6. Speak justly, readily, clearly… Clearness in particular is necessary…because we are to instruct people of the lowest understanding… Constantly use the most common, little, easy words (so they are pure and proper) which our language affords.  Most of us are not preaching to uneducated miners like Wesley did, but don’t let out-of-date phrasing obscure the point he is making.  Our job as preachers is to communicate, not to show off.  If you don’t have a theological and grammatical terminology that is higher than your preaching vocabulary, then you are either aiming too high with your words, or you are too weak in your study.  Say the profound things that the Bible says.  And say those things in the simplest way possible.  Even if ten PhD’s walk into your church, you still need to preach so that people with the least understanding (by means of their education, church being an alien environment, English not being their first language, or whatever) will be able to understand what you are saying.  Be clear.  Simple.

7. Beware of clownishness… Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.  Again, good advice.  There is a place for humour in preaching, but we do need to be very wary of entertaining or making the sermon about us.  I suspect that if we avoid jesting and foolish talk, as well as clownishness, then we are on safe ground.  We don’t have to come across as sombre in every moment, but we should speak as if we have a very important message to convey – which we do if we are preaching the text properly.  We need to be wary of inappropriate formality.  Just as wearing a tuxedo can feel out of place, so can a strange and affected formal tone or a presentational gravitas that is not consistent with our personality and natural demeanour.  In our fear of jesting, let’s not come across as unloving, lacking in warmth, or out of touch with the room.  

8. Never scream.  Never speak above the natural pitch of your voice.  This was probably a greater concern before amplification equipment.  Nevertheless, this point still applies.  There is a natural upper limit to your pitch, your power, and even your pace.  Don’t go above that level to achieve some kind of emphasis.  The screamer seldom communicates anything other than a loss of control.  In fact, it is good to consciously work on going down instead of up for emphasis.  Down in pitch.  Down in power.  Slow down the pace.  Emphasis sounds very natural in the opposite direction, but it takes unnatural work to develop the skill!  And even more foundationally, your emphasis and impact is not ultimately determined by your vocal delivery, but by God’s Spirit bringing conviction to your listeners.

Next time we will finish the list.

John Wesley’s Advice – Part 2

So last time we started this list of 12 points of advice to preachers from John Wesley.  Let’s keep going!

3. Choose the plainest texts from the Bible to preach on.  Again, if I were purely speaking to non-believers then I would completely concur.  However, in a typical church setting, we will be speaking to both Christians and non-Christians.  A steady diet of the same evangelistically oriented passages will lead to some malnourishment among God’s people.  I think it is good to help our churches experience the full breadth and scope of God’s Word.  You might preach more from the New Testament than the Old, but if they never hear the Old Testament preached, why would they read it?  And if they don’t read it, what a vast vista of theological truth is lost.  Different types of text are also important for the health of the church.

So on the one hand, I would agree that every passage has a redemptive force that should be brought out because believers never move beyond the need to hear the gospel being applied to their lives.  On the other hand, while every passage is useful, not every passage is equally useful on every occasion.  Don’t be stubbornly preaching through Jeremiah when people are coming for a Christmas Carol Service.  Bottom line?  Be selective and choose what you are going to preach appropriately for the listeners and the occasion, but in a church choose from the whole Bible because people need more than your favourite five passages.

4. Take care not to ramble from your text but to keep close to it.  Can I just say I agree and move on?  Of course not, otherwise this would be a “Quote” rather than a “Blog!”  It is quite remarkable how little weight the Bible passage will have in some sermons.  Some will leave it behind to ramble into excessive personal anecdotes and humorous illustrations.  Others will leave it behind to ramble into theological presentations that resemble explosions in a concordance factory! (Hyper cross-referencing is very common in some circles!)  Few seem to recognize that this passage is uniquely powerful and should not be missed by superficial coverage in the sermon.  Your church may not be back in that passage for several years.  Keep close to it, do it justice, allow time for clarity to emerge and its impact to be felt.

5. Be sure to begin and end at the time appointed… People imagine the longer a sermon is, the more good it will do. This is a grand mistake… the Methodist rule is to conclude the service within an hour.  Several points in this one.  Let’s go one-by-one – (1) begin and end on time.  I understand that different cultures have different expectations in terms of time.  But the point still applies.  Abide by the expectations of the culture.  Once we break the general expectation, then we distract attention from the sermon.  If we go 10 minutes over, parents are concerned about children in kids’ groups, volunteers in kids’ groups start to lose their joy in serving, and others are concerned about their plans, their lift home, etc.  Generally speaking, stick to time.  Seems fairly simple.

(2) Longer is not necessarily better.  Again, agreed.  Haddon Robinson was captivated by how some preachers preach for ten minutes and it feels like an hour, while others preach for an hour and it feels like ten minutes.  Length tends to become the key focus when too little attention is given to clear, engaging and relevant content and delivery.  Generally speaking, longer sermons could be sharpened into shorter sermons.  But shorter is not automatically better either.  Some things take time.  Just as an illustration might be lost in two sentences, but really capture hearts in two minutes, in the same way, a sermon can be technically precise in a shorter timeframe, but more vivid and engaging with enough time given to let the listeners’ imagination flourish.  There is no right length of sermon.  It depends on preacher’s skill; listener’s background, expectations and focus; and the occasion too.

(3) Service length should be less than one hour.  That feels quite arbitrary and culturally bound.  I imagine that didn’t translate effectively in some other global contexts!  But, service length should be considered for the sake of church attendees, as well as their perception of service length for potential guests they might invite in the future.

Ok, let’s leave it there for this time.

Say It

CH Spurgeon’s conversion is one of the great conversion stories in church history. Feeling under heavy conviction and longing to find out how to be saved, he set off for church one January Sunday morning (172 years ago tomorrow, in fact). The weather was atrocious and he couldn’t make it to his intended destination, and instead slipped into a small chapel where about a dozen people were attending. Their preacher had also been thwarted by the weather, so eventually, a thin man stood up to preach. Some have said it was the wrong preacher, in the wrong church, in the wrong weather, with the wrong congregation. Whatever, God is still God!

Spurgeon himself said, “Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say.”

Of course, the story continues. The text was from Isaiah. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” And the message was on target for young and troubled Spurgeon, “there was a glimpse of hope for me in that text.” So the thin-looking preacher restated the text every way he could manage for about ten minutes, and then told the young guest at the back that he looked miserable and needed to look to Jesus to be saved. And Spurgeon was born again. Spurgeon often told the story and it is well worth reading.

But let’s just ponder that earlier point. “He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say.”

Three points to ponder:

1. Our job as a preacher is to say what the text says.

2. Our education does not give us something better to say than what the text says.

3. God once spoke through a donkey, so humbly say what the text says.

Looking back on that moment, Spurgeon quoted words you may have sung:

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

To read a slightly fuller version of the story, click here. (And if you want to sing the song, I enjoyed this!)

Definition Matters – 7 Pro-Am Preaching Points

Definition matters massively. One person might say, “professional preachers are the problem!” Then another person might say, “amateur preachers are the problem!” And both might be right. It all depends on what they mean by what they say.

1. “Professional” can be referring to very different issues. What image does the term “professional” bring to mind? You might think of a person’s skill, or how they handle their communications with customers, or their manner in person, or their motivation for what they do. That is already four variations of potential meaning for the term “professional.” Perhaps an electrician is called to solve a problem in your house. They might be a real professional in their work (positive – they knew exactly what to do), their invoice was very professional looking (positive – good communications), their conversation and manner in conversation might have been a bit professional (negative – cold or aloof communications), and their reason for working may have seemed too professional (negative – it was all about the money).

2. “Amateur” can be referring to very different issues, too. What image does the term “amateur” bring to mind? You might think in the same categories as before. Perhaps the electrician was amateur in their work (negative – they did not know what to do), their invoice looked very amateur (negative – sloppy communication), their conversation might convey the enthusiasm of an amateur (positive – they love what they do), and their reason for work may have been the best side of an amateur (positive – they do it for the love of their craft).

3. In terms of skill, be professional. I don’t want someone showing “amateurish” skill levels when they fix my car, cut my hair, or operate on me. Skill is good. In reality, some of the most skilled people in the world may not be paid for what they do, while some who are paid should not be allowed anywhere near your car, your scalp or a scalpel. So actually, pay is irrelevant. The point is about skill. So as a preacher, it does not matter to this point whether you are paid to preach or not. In terms of skill, be as professional as possible. Read, learn, study, grow. Be a good steward of the ministry opportunity God has given you.

4. In respect to motivation, be amateur. When someone’s vocation has been “professionalised” then their motivation becomes suspect. This is why a nationally known car exhaust company may not be trusted (did they do more work than was needed in order to get more of my money?) Or why it is a problem if your medical practitioner is incentivized by drug companies to prescribe treatments to as many people as possible (whether they need the treatment or not!) In this respect, skill is not the issue. The point is about motivation. A highly skilled mechanic who rips off the customer is not to be celebrated. A brilliant clinician who risks lives to increase their income should be prosecuted. So as a preacher, your skill level (in this point) is not my concern. In terms of motivation, be as amateur as possible. Love God, love people, and love your craft. Be driven by the privilege of getting to speak God’s Word to people for their benefit.

5. And in the area of interpersonal communication, be genuine. I have underlined issues of skill and motivation, but interpersonal communication is also part of the package. Coming across as too professional can be problematic, even when you are not preaching. Coming across as an amateur might be an issue too. Instead, how about we settle on the need to be genuine? It does not resolve all the complexity of conversational dynamics, but it does leave us with two clear points to finish.

6. As a preacher, let’s do what we do as well as we can. If that means being professional in some sense, so be it. We certainly don’t want to be amateurish.

7. As a preacher, let’s do what we do with heartfelt motivation. If that means being amateurs in some sense, so be it. We certainly don’t want to be professionalised.

The definition of labels is important. This is an example worth pondering as far as preaching is concerned and how we might view our ministry. We should preach as professionals in the sense of “to the best of our ability” and as amateurs in the sense of “with the passion of a captured heart.” We should not preach as professionals in the sense of “relying on our own ability,” or “just for money,” nor as amateurs in the sense of “to a poor standard.”

It is also an example to keep in mind in a world where labels so easily get applied as a pejorative, and the mud sticks because people don’t question what is really meant.

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In the next week or so I will be completing my short video collection through the Psalms. Please do check it out and share with any who may find it helpful as a reference, or better yet, as a companion through the Psalms in 2023!

Work To Really Know a Passage – 7 Thoughts

This might seem like a really obvious thing to say, but I think it needs to be said. We have to really work hard in order to really know a passage before we preach it.

It is very easy to assume we know a passage. It is very hard to recognize how much we don’t know. But learning to think clearly about your own thinking is a critical skill for the preacher.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Knowing a passage involves more than knowing some highlights or landmarks in it. After reading a passage and spending some time in study, you may be able to identify some key features of the passage. You might be able to say that there is the truth in verse 3, and the truth in verse 5 and then the conclusion in verse 9. Do you know the passage? No, you are aware of some highlights in the passage.

2. Knowing a passage involves more than being able to launch preaching points from phrases in it. You might feel ready to preach because verse 3 mentions justification (and you have some things to say about justification), and then verse 5 mentions hope (and you have a nice illustration you want to share about hope), etc. Are you ready to preach the passage if you have some good preaching points ready to launch? No.

3. Knowing a passage involves more than being able to talk about each phrase with theological truth. But what if your preaching content is not illustrations, but rich theological truths? Maybe you have a whole theology of justification that you can launch in verse 3, and then you can make a presentation on sanctification because of a key word that appears later in the passage? Surely if it is rich theological truth, then you are ready to preach? No. Not if the passage is not saying what you are planning to say. Just because wind appears in John 3 does not mean that I should preach about God’s view of changing weather patterns from it.

4. Knowing a passage involves more than reading some commentaries about the passage. It is not a bad idea to have some conversation partners in your study. Other live humans can be super helpful. As can published ones. But even if I can quote from impressive commentaries, it does not mean that I really understand the passage yet. By all means use the best resources you can access, but remember the goal is still for you to understand the passage, not just to have studied things written about it.

5. Knowing a passage involves understanding the details as they work together in a coherent whole. This is where many preachers seem to stumble. They do reasonably well with the details. They speak theological truth. They associate that truth with the wording in the passage. But if they don’t recognize how the details are working together in the passage, they don’t know the passage. Remember, your goal is not to study a passage in order to find a sermon. Your first goal is to study it in order to understand it.

6. Knowing a passage involves understanding the flow of thought in the passage, with an awareness of context. A passage sits in a book, as part of the whole. If you don’t understand how the passage works in the book, how can you really grasp what the passage itself means? So we need to study each passage in its whole book, as well as whole Bible, context. The point is, each passage was written to communicate something specific, and we need to figure that out. Our job is not to generate meaning by creativity, but to find meaning by dogged humble persistence.

7. Knowing a passage means being able to explain it so that the original author would affirm your grasp of its essential meaning. That sounds like a bold goal. It is. That is why we can’t just study until we feel a message emerging. As preachers we can generate messages out of nothing. But God has given us something very specific. And unless we grow in our confidence that it is possible to communicate the essential meaning of a passage to a level where the original author would affirm our explanation, then we will not put in the work necessary to be ready to preach.

Implication? The big implication of this post is simple. Don’t be so confident that you know the meaning of a passage. Study more. Study longer. Study humble. Study persistently. Make it your goal to know the passage better than you ever have before, to be able to handle questions about specific aspects of the passage, and be willing to explain the meaning of the text even to the original author himself…and then start thinking about how you will preach it!

Vary the Crescendo

I remember sitting high up in the Royal Albert Hall for a schools concert some years ago. Impressive venue, electric atmosphere, and stunning music. All of the music was very good, but there is something unique about the 1812 Overture once the cannons are fired up in the rafters – it was so fun to watch the children’s faces (they didn’t know it was coming!) I am no classical music fan, but that always feels like a high point in any concert.

The thing is, music can’t all be a thrilling crescendo. And the musical impact is not all achieved by crescendo. There are variations of melodic themes woven together, changes from major to minor key to influence the mood, variations in rhythmic intensity, and so much more. It would not make for great music to simply string together and elongate every possible crescendo (or add cannons to every piece)!

The same principle is true in preaching. There are various ways in which we can start to lean on a powerful crescendo too much, and thereby weaken our preaching. Here are a few examples:

Your Voice – Undoubtedly you can run into a crowded room and get everyone’s attention by screaming. That doesn’t mean you should scream your way through a sermon. Naturally, when we are excited about what we have to say, our voice will tend to climb upwards. It will go up in pitch, up in volume, and up in pace. And the ability to pause meaningfully? That will go up in smoke! As a preacher, you will do well to learn the benefit, and the skill, of going down for emphasis too. You can go down in pitch, down in volume, and down in pace – all for a non-crescendo variation on emphasis. And bring the skill of pause back down to earth too, it really can help!

Your Points – It is so easy to find a formula that works for a point in a message and then find yourself repeating that same formula for each point. Perhaps the flow moves from stating the point to explaining it textually and then applying it with an exhortational forcefulness that works well in point 1. That does not mean that point 2 must also have the same crescendo at the point of application. Be sure to look at how your points serve each other. Sometimes a point works better without forcefulness – let it fulfil its function in the message.

Your Support Material – It is always tempting to think that a certain type of “illustration” will always work well because one particular example did. Maybe your sermon seemed to soar when you recounted the moving story, shared the humourous anecdote, or let rip with the fiery rebuke (you know your tendency in terms of preferred “illustrations!”) Great. Be thankful that it worked. But don’t start to lean on that type of material to the exclusion of others. People grow tired of perfectly placed emotional stories, side-splitting humour, or repeated rebuke. The repetition will not achieve greater impact but will move listeners to start to see your preaching as manipulative, your goal as to entertain, or your pastoral concern as haranguing.

Your Series – Last Sunday I was preaching the passage after God rescued Isaac on Mount Moriah. That had been a crescendo message in an Abraham series stretching back for many weeks. People commented and appreciated and responded to the emotional impact of that sermon. So what to do the week after? It was tempting to try to continue the crescendo. Why not keep up the same emotional pitch for maximum personal impact? Instead, I chose to deliberately preach in a much more relaxed “teaching” style that allowed us to consider the new passage before us. I think it was the right choice. There was still some emotional impact, but it was not through the perpetuation of the crescendo. The message was in a different key, the music made its own impact, and it didn’t try to roll out the cannons again.

Where else can we find ourselves leaning on crescendo to the exclusion of other helpful options?

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Fighting Flat

Part of our challenge as preachers is to fight flatness in our preaching. This could be in terms of delivery, structure, or content. Perhaps you would add more areas too.

Basic Principle – When we stand in front of a crowd, which is an unnatural environment, then we have to fight a tendency to become restricted in all types of variation. What seems varied in our minds can sound flat, or monotonous, to our listeners. We have to fight against that flatness to be as engaging as possible.

Delivery – I am resisting the term monotony, because technically, that only refers to tone. Tone is certainly included, but we can become flat communicators in other areas too. The added pressure of speaking to a crowd, even if we are not nervous, will push us toward a restricted range of vocal tone. Or physical movement. Or facial expression. Or range of gestures. Or volume. Any aspect of our delivery can easily become repetitive and restricted rather than varied and interesting. Naturally, we will tend to bore rather than grip. So let’s fight the flatness in order to be engaging.

Structure – What happens with delivery, can also happen with the parts of our sermon. We can easily present the content in a flatter way than we anticipated. The nerves, or just the dynamic of a crowd, can cause us to progress through the passage at a fixed height. It is easy to lose the moments of greater overview to help our listeners, instead of either plodding at a fixed height or jumping between details without showing the connections. It takes a clear mind to remember to make the transitions clear and helpful. It takes a deliberate approach to give high-level overview and then dip down for details with clarity. If we don’t think about it, every sermon point will simply be the next natural step in our progression through the text. Naturally, we will tend to slide through the text rather than showing the contours and enlighten listeners regarding the passage as a whole. Let’s fight the flatness in order to be engaging.

Content – The same thing can happen with other aspects of our content. It is easy to get in a rut with how we explain the details in the text, or the kind of illustrations that we use, or the emotional energy in the support material shared. Five sporting analogies in a row is typically not as thrilling as we might feel internally. Always using cross-references in every point is not biblically engaging, it is dull. Don’t fall into a pattern of always offering illustrative material that is merely interesting, but never personal, or always personal, but also mundane. Listeners need variety in content to distinguish parts of the message and to offer the velcro for their minds and hearts to stay engaged. We have to fight the flatness in order to be engaging.

How else do you see monotony, or flatness, creeping into a sermon? It is also possible to get into a rut between messages, too. For instance, always using the same shape sermon, always quoting the same source (Spurgeon, anyone?), or always ending with the same emotional force.

Your Job is to Make Words Clear

When I used to live close to London I sometimes visited the British Library. There you can see some amazing treasures, such as Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus.  It is amazing to see such ancient books, but they are not the easiest things to read and understand. For one, they were written in uncials: ITISNOTEASYTOREADTEXTWITHOUTGAPSORPUNCTUATION.  Oh, and they are in Greek, just to add to the challenge.

Thankfully we don’t have to read Greek text written in uncials (unless we want to, then praise God that we can access so much!) We are blessed to have the Bible very accurately translated into our language and readily affordable (or free online). They even add in spaces, lower case letters, punctuation, etc. How blessed we are! I suppose I should also mention the chapter and verse divisions, which save a lot of time. And there are the somewhat and sometimes helpful section headings.

But remember that to many people in our churches today, the text feels as inaccessible as an ancient uncial codex! To many, it feels like a big block of text with thousands of words running into each other.

And so the preacher goes to work each week, diligently studying a passage in order to first understand it, and then to preach it. That work moves from the initial simplicity of familiar words, through the complexity of trying to grasp an author’s flow of thought, and out into the warm sunshine of studied simplicity. Hopefully, the preacher is then in a place to make sense of the flow of thought, to identify the major thoughts and to see the supporting role of each subordinate thought. The passage no longer feels like a random set of instructions and assertions.

When we preach our task includes the need to make a string of words clear.  We don’t have to start with an uncial script, but to all intents and purposes, we practically are.  Listeners hearing a string of verses often grasp very little during their first exposure. As we preach we look for ways to emphasize the main thoughts, we look for ways to demonstrate how the “support material” in the text explains, proves and/or applies the main thoughts.  Without technical jargon, our preaching needs to verbally achieve the formation of something like a clausal layout in the minds and hearts of our listeners.  Certainly, by the time we are done preaching, they should not see the text as a string of random words or thoughts . . . it should be much clearer than that!

Preaching goes way beyond clarification of the meaning of a string of words. But preaching won’t go anywhere good if it bypasses this critical element of the task.

Handle the Text Carefully

When we preach we explain the meaning of details in a Bible passage. We do more than that too, of course. But here are five quick reminders about handling the text carefully:

1. Remember that the passage was originally written in another language, even though you probably don’t need to mention it. As one of my teachers put it, “Greek is like your underwear, it is important to have it on, but don’t let it show.” I think there is wisdom in both halves of that thought. We should use the languages as best we can in preparation, and generally, there is wisdom in not talking about it when we preach. For people who have never learned Hebrew and Greek, it is important to remember that there is both linguistic and cultural distance between the original text and our translation. It is wise to consult serious commentaries as you are preparing, and it is very wise to not support your presentation by appealing to the original language, especially if you are not comfortable translating the passage for yourself.

2. Be grateful for the English translation you have. While it is good to interact with some heavyweight commentators to help you with the original, be thankful for the translations we have. We don’t need to undermine our listener’s confidence in good translations by how we explain the text.

3. The meaning of words will change over time, so don’t build a point on the origins of a word. I read a few deliberately outrageous examples in a Moises Silva article that reinforce this point. He demonstrated, for instance, how we should not trust ranchers because of the old French etymological connection to our term, deranged. Or the argument that dancing should be forbidden for Christians because the word ballet comes from a Greek term that also shows up as part of the origin of the term translated “devil.” Don’t do that. Words mean what they mean in their context, in their contemporary usage at the time of writing.

4. Don’t read every possible meaning of a word into a specific instance. Let the context identify the meaning of a word. The other possibilities listed in the dictionary or lexicon need not concern you as you preach it. Take the term “chip” in this sentence – “The problem with your computer is a burned-out chip.” It doesn’t matter that the term can be used for a deep-fried potato chunk served hot in England, or a fried slice of potato served cold in America, or a piece of wood flying as the lumberjack chops at a tree trunk, or a useful shot for a golfer stuck in a bunker. Other possible meanings do not matter when the sentence itself clarifies the intended meaning.

5. Context really is king. When it comes to explaining the meaning of a detail in a text, context is always the golden guideline. Don’t get caught up building a point on a nuance of grammar, or a subtlety of vocabulary. Those finer points can usually be left in your study notes, or used to support what you are saying, but if you are going to make a big point about meaning, generally it should be made using context as your primary evidence.

We have to explain the meaning of the text whenever we preach. Let’s keep prayerfully pondering how we can do that in a way that is clear, helpful, instructive and not distracting.

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Haddon Robinson’s Definition of Expository Preaching

I still look back with huge gratitude at the opportunity to have studied with Haddon Robinson in the mid 2000’s. Here is his oft-quoted definition:

“Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.”

Importance of the “concept” – the central role of the “big idea” is vital to coherent preaching.  Preaching is not the conveying of random details held together by their proximity in a biblical text.  It is easy to let a Bible text nudge you into your favourite theological themes, your anecdotes of choice, or even other disconnected biblical truths. This definition urges the preacher to study the passage in order to determine the big idea of the passage. What, specifically, is this passage saying?

Importance of the study method – among the expository definitions that I’ve read over the years, I think this one is unique in including a definition of the hermeneutical approach advocated.  In order to get to the biblical concept in a passage, the preacher is to use a historical, grammatical, literary study of the passage in context. What, accurately, is this passage saying?

Importance of the transmission – many people miss the two words “transmitted through” that come before the hermeneutical element.  Not only should a preacher use good hermeneutics in the study, but they should exemplify good hermeneutics in the presentation. After all, the preacher is modelling Bible handling before a crowd who will pick up habits from what they observe. How will they read their Bibles after listening to you preach?

Importance of the Holy Spirit – again, many definitions of preaching seem to omit any reference to the Holy Spirit.  This one recognizes the role of the Spirit in applying the biblical concept in the life of the preacher, then through the preacher in the listeners too. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.