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Honoring Haddon Robinson

Reflections from pastors on lessons they have learned from Haddon Robinson.

Average Rating:  [see ratings/reviews]Honoring Haddon Robinson

Editor’s Note: On July 22nd we lost one of the master preachers in AmericaHaddon Robinson. His influence on preaching and pastors can be felt all over the world. But it really hit home with us here at Preaching Today since we consider him the Grandfather of Preaching Today, as he was a Senior Editor for Preaching Today. I never had the great honor to meet or talk with him, but the stories I hear from other pastors who sat under him, including my own father, move me to become a better proclaimer of the gospel. I hope these stories below show how much he loved preaching and preparing those who were called to the ministry. This post will continue to be updated as others share their stories and lessons learned from Haddon Robinson. If you have a story you would like to share about the impact he has had on your preaching feel free to email it to

You can read Christianity Today’s tribute here.

Ken Shigematsu – Pastor of Tenth Avenue Church in Vancouver, British Columbia

Several years ago, I was in the Boston area visiting my alma mater Gordon-Conwell. I walked into the office of my former professor, Dr. Haddon Robinson, and asked, "Have you had any new insights about preaching recently?" He replied, "I've discovered that our brain works on a ten-day creative cycle. So, if a person wants to prepare their best sermons, they need to begin their preparation at least ten days in advance. This will ensure a person will hit their creative peak somewhere in that cycle." That simple, yet powerful idea revolutionized my approach to sermon preparation.

Up until that time, I had typically prepared my entire sermon on the Thursday before the Sunday that I was to preach. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to come up with something creative on Thursdays, and I dreaded that day. With all the anxiety, I experienced regular "sermon block."

Thanks to Haddon’s insight, instead of preparing my Sunday sermon on the Thursday before, I began to prepare the message two Thursdays before, so that I would have a ten-day runway. Spreading out the work significantly reduced the pressure and my anxiety. The longer runway also gave more time for my creative ideas to emerge and I found that —for the first time—I began to enjoy the sermon preparation process, and it felt more prayerful.

Also, Haddon Robinson made us write out our sermon manuscripts, but did not allow us to take notes into the pulpit. He said when we are reviewing our sermon if we keep forgetting something—it likely doesn’t fit into the vertebrae of the sermon itself so we’re better off dropping it.

Haddon taught me that it takes three to five minutes for a thought to develop in a listener’s mind. So in any given sermon you can only have six or seven movements.

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Displaying 1–5 of 7 comments

Iain Crichton

August 09, 2017  3:40pm

His insistence on preaching without notes taught me to learn the story before telling the story

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Marshall Shelley

August 02, 2017  5:52pm

I rarely hear (or preach) a sermon without thinking, "What's the 'big idea'?" And for that I thank Haddon Robinson. He taught and modeled what good preaching was all about while he was president at Denver Seminary and I was a student there. He had "the gift of clarity," one he inspired me to pray for. Haddon's death is our loss, his gain. I think of him now as one of that "great cloud of witnesses."

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Austin McCracken

August 02, 2017  11:55am

Thank you for posting these meaningful/ personal memories of the Mr Haddon Robinson. Never knew the gentleman but have discovered and learnt much from reading these comments regarding spirit filled teaching/preaching from God's Word. Hence am now encouraged to purchase a copy of his book and use it as a personal training manual. Being self employed in business am not a preacher but Mr Robinson's insights in effectively communicating the Gospel in personal evangelism would be a valuable asset. 1Peter3:15

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David Forsythe

July 27, 2017  6:31pm

Haddon taught me much about preaching. More than that he taught me something of what it is to live life with skill and integrity. Haddon and his lovely wife, Bonnie, graced the pews of our sanctuary for 20 years during their time at GCTS. Their churchmanship was above reproach. Haddon preached in the classroom what he practiced in the pulpit and practiced what he preached in life. For the opportunity to know him in that context, I will always be grateful.

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Dr. Scott M. Gibson

July 26, 2017  3:10pm

The Dean of Evangelical Homiletics, powerful preacher, faithful colleague and friend. Our loss of Haddon Robinson is heaven's gain. His commitment to biblical preaching will continue to have an impact on generations to come.

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