by Jordan Tew, Executive Director, Baptist Publishing House
One of my absolute favorite preachers is Adrian Rogers. Although he has gone home to be with the Lord, his preaching continues to impact many all over the world through internet, television and radio. Like many, I have always appreciated his style of preaching and Bible teaching. There is just something about how Rogers presented God’s Word that made you want to listen and learn.
I’ve compiled a small list of things Adrian Rogers did that helped him clearly teach and preach God’s Word. Let us consider these things together:
• “Open your Bible.” I cannot find a sermon where Rogers does not begin by asking the congregation to open their Bibles. This set the tone for his preaching and teaching, as it clearly established that everything said after that moment would be coming from the Bible. We also should begin every sort of Bible preaching and teaching with the Word of God being read and believed.
• He went verse-by-verse. Friends, consider this fact: God did not give us His Word in bits and pieces. He gave us His Word book-by-book. We would do well to preach and teach God’s Word in a way that follows the manner in which it was given to us. There is power in the Word of God, and we would all do well to study, teach and preach it verse-by-verse. Adrian Rogers faithfully preached that way. He was an “expository” preacher. Expository preachers and teachers will present the meaning of the verses being taught as God intends, as opposed to making the Bible say what they want it to say. When we take the time to go verse-by-verse, we are obligated to preach and teach God’s Word as it was given and in the proper context.
• “Put in your margins,” “Look, if you will,” “Mark it down…” Another thing Rogers did consistently was asking (or telling) his listeners to look at the Bible. It was not enough to simply open and read it briefly at the beginning of the sermon. Rather, God’s Word was referenced continually throughout the entire presentation. This is a good goal for all of us to pursue. We must not merely make Scripture our “jumping off point” of the sermon or lesson, but it must continually be the focal point.
• Tell them where you’re going. Rogers helped his listeners become learners from the beginning of each sermon. He did this by telling his listeners where he was taking them. He would essentially give the highlights of his sermon outline at the beginning of the sermon. That is a good practice, as it helps listeners focus on what is being said, rather than wondering where they are going. Consider doing this as you begin your lesson or sermon.
• Ask questions. One of the things that helped listeners stay engaged to Rogers’ preaching was his use of questions. He did not ask questions that had no meaning or answer, but he asked piercing questions that could be answered by God’s Word. Perhaps one of the best ways to communicate the truths of God’s Word is by asking questions that cause one to think about the truth of God’s Word.
• He was a slow speaker. Adrian Rogers’ speaking abilities were, and still are, nearly unmatched. Yes, he had a golden tone of voice and a cadence which could keep even the most sleepy-eyed listener awake. Those are God-given gifts, which only a few have. However, one thing we can all learn and put into practice is the ability to speak more slowly and deliberately when we teach or preach. Most people tend to speak twice as fast when they are speaking in front of others. Try to speak a little more slowly and deliberately and see if it helps your students understand you better.
• Use illustrations appropriately. Rogers used illustrations masterfully. His illustrations were powerful because they were relatable, short and pointed people to the Word of God. We are often tempted to make our lessons or sermons 80% illustration and 20% Bible. Our illustrations or stories do not have power. God’s Word has the power! We would do well to use illustrations judiciously and with the intent of pointing people to the Bible. Here’s a good rule of thumb — at the end of your lesson or sermon the people should remember God’s Word more than the illustration used to teach it.
• He didn’t mind saying the hard stuff… but he did so lovingly. Christians seem to struggle with extremes. We seem to swing from legalism to liberalism yet have trouble landing where we should. I have had to be careful with this. Believers, and especially pastors and teachers, ought to be willing to teach and preach the truth no matter what. They ought to stand firm on God’s Word and affirm the doctrines of the Bible. However, this must be done with love and even with a smile. Adrian Rogers did that. His consistent, firm and loving preaching is a good example for us all to consider as we teach or preach God’s Word.
• He kept the gospel primary. Over and over again, Rogers found a way to clearly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible. Friends, this world needs the gospel. Any occasion is a good occasion to tell someone about the saving grace of God Almighty — even in the Sunday School class or worship service! Let us seek every opportunity to preach and teach the gospel.
May God bless you and your preaching/teaching ministry!
If you would like to listen to one of Adrian Rogers’ sermons that illustrations our need to depend on God’s Word, visit tiny.cc/adrianrogers.