What do you mean by "good preacher?"

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Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
A full answer to the question requires determining the constituent elements of preaching. And for someone to be unreservedly characterized as a good preacher, he must be excellent in all those constituent elements, although it is probably rare to find someone who is equally outstanding in all areas.
Obviously the content of preaching, the thing preached, is a major constituent element. No amount of excellence in other areas will make up for bad content (though it may be partial compensation for slim content); and excellence in this area can make other deficiencies to be overlooked or less noticed.
The manner of preaching, the actual delivery and sound of the message are also major influences. Since preaching involves speaking, there are mechanical questions of voice and volume and articulation; since it involves presenting content there are questions of holding attention and organization of auditory material. If people can't hear or can't follow the content being presented, it's unlikely they'll immediately leap to the conclusion that a good preacher has been among them. But these questions allow for a certain flexibility, as there are styles of speaking that are highly valued in one culture and earn disdain in another.
The context of preaching also enters into it: the demeanor of the preacher, if his actions undercut the force of his message, things of that nature. It's probably logically distinguishable from the actual quality of preaching, but in practice it's bound to color people's estimation.
You have also the calling and character of the preacher to consider. A clear calling and a noble character may well cause defects in other areas to be tolerated for a long time; but I think without good content and amenable delivery, it will still be difficult for people to be really enthusiastic about the preaching.

Of course our own ignorant prejudices, idiosyncratic preferences, and irrelevant partialities may make it difficult to give an accurate estimation of good preaching in reference to particular persons; so ultimately the safest ground is probably to say that a good preacher is one who has built with gold, silver, and precious stones upon the foundation of Christ.

But what I mean when I say that someone is a good preacher, is that he is pleasant to listen to in the process of saying true and interesting things on a cohesive topic, while showing their derivation from Scripture.
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Puritanboard Brimstone
But what I mean when I say that someone is a good preacher, is that he is pleasant to listen to in the process of saying true and interesting things on a cohesive topic, while showing their derivation from Scripture.

I think that is a very good summary.


Puritan Board Freshman
Hi, first post here. In my humble opinion, a "good" preacher is one who knows the text, prays over it and the hearers consistently and passionately, is faithful and hard-working in exegesis (this should be evident in his delivery), has a decent delivery (but doesn't have to be a rhetorician) , relies on the Holy Spirit for conviction of the hearer, and preaches the centrality of Christ in all things. He should always bring the light of the Gospel to bear on any passage he preaches from. He does not sugar coat or downplay the exceeding evil of sin, but also doesn't brow beat the hearer with moralism and guilt. He let's the Word and the Spirit send the hearer to their knees in brokenness and conviction, and lifts them up with the Gospel. He also preaches the Gospel to himself daily.

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
J. Dean, why would you like them to focus on doctrine and not practical application? I find I need both often. Though I would want it weighted more with Doctrine, as, if the underlying principles are faulty, the practise will be also...
Sorry I took so long to respond, Lawrence. In part, it's because, when doctrine is clearly presented, application isn't that hard to deduce as a result. I'm not saying to ignore application, but again the great pastors-Luther, Calvin, etc.-were far more concerned with laying down doctrinal framework first. Application was brought up, but more often than not it consists of the "icing on the cake" so to speak.

When we focus on application over doctrine, we're putting the cart before the horse. It's easy to preach, for example, that one ought to be obedient; even cults can preach good works (Mormonism, for instance). It is a far different thing to preach WHY we are obedient, and do so correctly without confusing law and gospel.

Randy in Tulsa

Puritan Board Freshman
He regularly reads from and preaches the law and gospel. He preaches plainly what we are to believe about God (and us) and what God requires of us. He preaches that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He preaches that, having regenerated us by his Spirit, Christ's Spirit continues to work in us to subdue and enable our will to do what God, in his word, requires. He exhorts and warns us to work out our salvation in the fear of God. He reminds us that God is sovereign, and that his providence extends to all creatures, but in a very special way God directs it to the care and good of his church. He believes with all that is within him what he preaches, and he leads by life example. He knows, understands and teaches the covenants, the confession and the catechisms. These are a few of the things I have seen in our new pastor at Providence OPC in Tulsa, for whom I am very thankful.


Ordinary Guy (TM)
Preaching is, in part, communication. Therefore, to some degree, bad communication makes bad preaching.

Preaching is also explanation of truth. Therefore, if falsehoods are preached, then it is not good preaching.

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Clear and lively communication just makes one a good teacher. It takes compelling communication to be a good preacher.

A "good preacher" must speak in a way that ends up reaching my heart and affecting my life. For this to happen regularly requires, at minimum: (1) good speaking ability, (2) godly content and (3) the Spirit's anointing on his messages.


Puritan Board Doctor
My pastor is both a good and faithful pastor! He never reads notes the truth of Scripture just flows out of him with a joy that shows in his speech and eyes!

Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is very interesting to hear all of these perspectives. It has caused me to contemplate what I actually mean when I say someone is a good preacher. Thanks.

I don't know much about the technicalities of Speaking, Preaching, homiletics or hermeneutics. However I have often spoken of certain men as good preachers and when I have said a man is a good preacher, what I have meant is God consistently blesses this man to use the word to point me to Christ.

Beau Michel

Puritan Board Freshman
A good preacher is one who proclaims Christ and Him crucified,whether his text is from the Old or New Testament.He also is able to make application of the Scriptures to every area of life.
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