Arthur and I often get asked who our preaching heroes are. Who do we listen to and model ourselves on? I think we probably get asked because we’re quite vocal about our reservations about popular preachers such as Mark Driscoll and John Piper and even Tim Keller. It’s not that we think these guys have nothing to offer, but we’re hesitant about how much Australians should take on board from sermons preached by Americans to Americans. On the surface, the two cultures seem to have much in common but probe a little deeper and both secular and church culture are vastly different. So we’re keen to listen to Australian voices.
“But who do you listen to in Australia?” I get asked. “Where are the podcasts, thepastorsname.com.au, the twitter accounts and the fanboys?” To tell the truth, I find the obscurity of many Australian pastors inviting and refreshing. You might say they’re not famous because they’re not that good. Perhaps. But then again, maybe they’re not that famous because they’re working at humility and faithfulness (which is not to say famous preachers aren’t).
The people who’ve influenced me as preachers are mostly Adelaidean because they’re people I know and whom I’ve seen in action. They point to the Bible as the authority, not themselves. One example of preachers like this are a few of the guys at Holy Trinity in Adelaide. (HTA isn’t my church but the pastors there have been very kind to me and when I’ve worked alongside some of them, I’ve felt privileged to do so.)
- For preaching a controversial topic with clarity, courage and a level head, listen to Paul Harrington on ‘Marriage, Love and Submission‘ from Ephesians 5.
- For a topical talk (systematic theology) that is thoroughly biblical, download Geoff Lin on ‘Joy‘ in a series on Christian character. One of the things I love about Geoff’s preaching is how much the gospels feature. Jesus is front and centre, even when it comes to big theological concepts.
- For a talk from the Old Testament, and an unfamiliar part of it at that, check out the more lyrical Chris Jolliffe on Isaiah 28-29. I think Chris’ conviction that God speaks even through parts of the Bible that we don’t ‘get’ at first is evident in what he prays, how he prepares his sermons and then in the way he manages to bring obscure imagery to life.
There’s a point at which you have to move away from models and find your own voice as a preacher. My style is quite different to each of these preachers. And none of them are the ideal preacher or the perfect pastor – far from it, and they’d be the first to tell you that! But I’m not aiming to be a super-apostle and I’ve found the strengths of these preachers instructive in shaping my own preaching.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.