On any given Sunday, you can travel to Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Manhattan’s West Side and hear some of the finest preaching in the world. The sermons, delivered by a master communicator to thousands of listeners over numerous services, engage Scripture while addressing the longings and needs of New York City’s unique culture.
But on any given Sunday, you can also travel to a clean, bright rectangular church in a small village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The pastor of this church will never achieve fame or write books. But week in and week out, this humble servant also faithfully engages Scripture while applying it to the hearts and needs of the forty people of his community.
This kind of faithful preaching occurs every week around the globe. In thousands of cities—Houston, Lagos, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Brussels, or Barnum, Minnesota (population 460). In dozens of church settings, through a vast array of preacher personalities and preaching styles, someone will stand before the people of God and declare, “This is the Word of God.” And the Word of God will go forth and not return void.
After studying the art and craft of preaching for over 25 years, at PreachingToday.com we’ve developed our short list of sermonic excellence, but we could summarize our list with a phrase adopted by Christianity Today’s editor Mark Galli. He calls it “Beautiful Orthodoxy,” a phrase that has become the goal for everything we do here at Christianity Today.
At PreachingToday.com we provide models of excellent sermons that reflect the spirit of Beautiful Orthodoxy. Orthodox sermons have been submitted to a specific biblical text and to the larger story of God’s redemption of the world in Christ. Beautiful sermons accurately state and then develop the big idea of a Bible passage or theme with clarity, simplicity, and liveliness. In the end, every beautifully orthodox sermon, delivered with the love of Christ and in the power of the Spirit, should move people to delight in, rely upon, and receive the good news of the God who is with us and for us in Jesus Christ. Over the years we’ve developed a strong collection of sermons that inspire preachers as they develop their own sermons on specific texts and themes.
Ever week we also add to our collection of 12,000-plus sermon illustrations. Again, these illustrations—stories, statistics, and quotes from contemporary culture, news, science, literature, history, and familiar Christian authors—reflect a commitment to Beautiful Orthodoxy. That drives us to be on the lookout for compelling, fresh, and surprising ways to make biblical concepts come alive and speak to the hearts and minds of listeners.
Since preaching is a human craft, we believe that preachers can learn how to prepare and deliver sermons that brim with Beautiful Orthodoxy. To that end, every week we post a preaching skills article that spur preachers to learn more about their craft. Our nine-step “The Preacher’s Complete Skills Guide” walks preachers through the weekly process of sermon preparation and delivery.
But since preaching is also a supernatural, Spirt-empowered encounter between a human being and a particular community with the living God, in the end only God can create sermons that shine with Beautiful Orthodoxy. As the master preacher and teacher Dr. Haddon Robinson, one of the initial shapers and mentors for PreachingToday.com, once said, “Of course, we will not give God that which costs us nothing. We will give him our best. Yet, in the final analysis there are no great preachers. There’s only a great Christ who does startling things when we place ourselves and our preaching in his hands.”
Matt Woodley is the pastor of compassion ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.