Preaching and Reading

“Ordinarily, reading sermons is like listening to an echo. The words there, but the personal intonation is gone out of them and there is an unreality about it all . . . In general it is true that the sermon which is good to preach is poor to read and the sermon which is good to read is poor to preach.”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 91

On Not Dialing It In

“Take, for instance, the matter of preaching old sermons. It is not good. A new sermon, fresh from the brain, has always a life in it which an old sermon, though better in itself, must lack . . . the main objection which the people have to the preaching of old sermons is in the impression that it gives them of unfaithfulness and idleness”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 86

On Not Preaching the Dregs

“The man is not doing his best . . . he writes his sermons on Saturday nights. That last I could the crowning disgrace of a man’s ministry. It is dishonest. It is giving but the last flicker of the week as it sinks in its socket, to those who, simply to talk about it as a bargain, have paid for the full light burning at its brightest. And yet men boast of it. They tell you in how short time they write their sermons, and when you hear them preach you only wonder that it took so long”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, pp. 84-85

On the Calendar

“The great procession of the year, sacred to our best human instincts with the accumulated reverence of ages—Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Whitsunday—leads those who walk in it, at least once every year, past all the great Christian facts, and, however careless and selfish be the preacher, will not leave it in his power to keep them from his people”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 79

If You Want the Congregation to Apply, Show Them How

“These last times grow very frequent with some men, till you have the race of clerical visionaries who think vast, dim, vague thoughts, and do no work. It is a danger of all ardent minds. The only salvation, if one finds himself verging to it, is an unsparing rule that no idea, however abstract, shall be every counted as satisfactorily received and grasped till it has opened to us its practical side and helped us somehow in our work”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 77

Inspiration, Not Comfort

Ineffective pastoral care “tries to meet the misfortunes of life with comfort and not with inspiration . . . The truest help which one can render to a man who has any of the inevitable burdens of life to carry is not to take his burden off but to call out his best strength that he may be able to bear it”

Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 71