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Some Like it Hot!

My wife and I have just returned from holiday. At dinner every evening the food was served on piping hot plates that were still warm to the touch after we had finished the food. It meant that we were able to enjoy every last mouthful of the delicious food without that unpleasant sense of munching on lukewarm food.

I was interested to read an article on preaching by Bill James in the latest edition of Evangelicals Now. He rather provocatively wrote that preaching today is “like hot food on a cold plate.” Ouch!

It reminded me of what Alistair Begg said about preaching:

“There is no chance of fire in the pews if there is an iceberg in the pulpit!”

Alistair suggests that one of the steps that a preacher needs to take when preparing to preach is to “pray themselves hot.”

There is a danger here that preachers can get the wrong idea. Begg is not talking about emotionalism, which tends to be generated by the preacher’s own personality. Rather this is genuine emotion that arises out a moment by moment communion with one true and living God. This God is alive. The preacher should be alive too.

This means that the preacher has begun to learn how to speak with the following three things:


One of the judges on the hugely popular show Strictly Come Dancing was commenting on one of the celebrity dances. He said that the celebrity had mastered all the components of the choreography and had performed every aspect of the dance competently but what was missing was the passion that makes a good routine a genuine dance.

Every congregation is entitled to ask the question:

“Does our preacher really feel what they are saying?”


On the radio today the actress Judi Dench was speaking about performing Shakespearean plays. She said that the secret was not merely to remember all the words in her part but to learn how to capture and reproduce the rhythm of the text.

The actor Alec McCowen performed a one-man show in London’s West End entitled The Gospel of Mark. In preparation for his performances the actor read and re-read Mark’s Gospel to get the rhythm and tone of Jesus’s words right. The Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that his new ordinands go and see the show in order to learn how to speak about Jesus.

Every congregation is entitled to ask the question:

“Does our preacher reflect the heartbeat of the biblical text?”


One of the things that impresses me about the preaching of Augustine of Hippo is the way he shows his care for the people that again and again he addresses the congregation,

“I don’t want to be saved without you” (Augustine Sermon 17.2).

Every congregation is entitled to ask the question,

“Does our preacher care if this sermon makes a difference in our lives?”

Preachers: How can your sermon next weekend feel like hot food served on a hot plate?

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

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