Karl Barth has a famous comment about how a pastor should hold a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other with the implication being that the pastor must know what is going on in the world in order to effectively preach. It has spurred some thoughts about exactly what preachers should read frequently (possibly as a discipline) so that they gospel may be preached effectively week in and week out. A retired professor told me that a good preacher must read theology and read it often. This helps give substance to our sermons and helps us return to orthodox faith. So those are three pillars – Scripture, theology, and the news. I’m going to add another pillar to disciplined sermon preparation – literature. Literature has a way with words that paint pictures of another world and helps the reader enter into that world and in the best novels, into relationship with the characters. Novelists and poets take great care in choosing their words. As preachers, handlers of the Word, we too should pay close attention to the words we choose when preaching. I think consistent exposure to classic novels and great literature fosters this care for words and sentences that preachers need.
Those are four pillars that I’ve been working with lately. Are there any others that should be added?