The Art of Effective Preaching -- By: William Ward Ayer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 124:493 (Jan 1967)
Article: The Art of Effective Preaching
Author: William Ward Ayer

The Art of Effective Preaching

William Ward Ayer

[William Ward Ayer, Director, Ayerow Christian Projects, Inc., Marching Truth Broadcast, St. Petersburg, Florida.]

In these studies it is my desire to instruct and inspire; to participate meaningfully in the highest of callings, the preaching of the gospel of Christ; and to study changing conditions that call not for a new message, but often for a new approach.

I will not try to teach you homiletics. You are better taught in the mechanics of sermon-making than I. But I hope that, speaking out of forty-eight years of preaching ministry as student, pastor, and evangelist, I may challenge your abilities and enrich your experience in proclaiming a living Christ to a dying world.

The theme, “The Art of Effective Preaching,” has been, assigned me and I like it, because effective preaching is certainly greatly needed today. Once the preacher’s voice was the one most heard and heeded in the land. Today it is often merely another cry in a jumble of voices.

The preacher competes with a thousand forces that bid for the mind and heart of the multitude. We no longer ring a church bell and have people crowd into the sanctuary from force of habit, or from a desire to learn what the preacher

has to say, or even to be vitally interested in the Word of God. We are reluctant to admit it, yet most preachers are occupied almost solely in helping God’s faithful remnant to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. But the remnant must also be taught to be discerning, to know the signs of the times, and to adapt their lives accordingly.

We begin with some definitions of our general topic, “The Art of Effective Preaching.” The word art may need some defining. For these lectures, art would be “systematic application of knowledge or skill to effect a desired result” (Webster). Preaching certainly is an art, the highest of the arts, if it adheres to the eternal message of God. “Effective preaching” means “the producing of a desired end by being impressive and efficient” (Webster).

The day is past when a preacher can stand in the presence of his people and say in effect, “Here is God’s Word. Take it or leave it.” In the Victorian era, most people instinctively believed the Word of God and believed the minister in his pulpit was God’s special representative and messenger to bring them eternal truth. Millions in today’s churches have no such attitude; so the preacher must deeply know the Word of God, be able to rightly divide the word of truth, and have the Holy Spirit-anointing necessary to making that Word spiritually effective. Th...

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