One of my goals for the study leave has been to read sermons by well-known British ministers in the churches where they served. I realize that may sound a little preacher-geeky... but I am what I am! By week's end I will have completed that project.
I couldn't think of a better source for such material than the 12-volume collection, "Twenty Centuries of Great Preaching." Laurita Benjamin kindly copied the introduction/biographical material and five sermons from each of the four preachers I selected. I chose them because of the variety and quality of their preaching and because their churches were still active places of ministry.
David Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899-19181) served for 25 years (1943-1968) as pastor of Westminster Chapel. Lloyd-Jones was successor to the well-known G. Campbell Morgan at Westminster Chapel. The five sermons I read were each expositions of Psalm 73. The verger/custodian wouldn't give me permission to enter the building (I guess he wasn't impressed with my quest) so I read Lloyd-Jones' materials in the courtyard of Westminster Chapel.
Leslie Weatherhead (1893-1976) was for 24 years pastor of City Temple. Weatherhead served this congregation during World War II and was known for his pastoral, life-oriented preaching. I first encountered Weatherhead in college when were were assigned to read The Will of God, which I still find an encouraging resource.
John Wesley (1703-1791) and his brother Charles are best-known as the founders of methodism. Wesley Chapel still functions as a strong church in its community in addition to hosting a mission center and housing the Wesley Museum. It has been said, "He led a religious and moral revival of such extent that the character and course of an entire nation were changed."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) is my preacher for this week. Known as an evangelist, Spurgeon was pastor pastor of Metropolitan Tabernacle for almost forty years. Spurgeon may have been the first mega-church pastor since they built the 6,000 seat Tabernacle to accommodate the crowds that came to hear him preach. He was a "convinced Calvinist" and today's Metropolitan Tabernacle remains a large and active ministry teaching from a reformed perspective. Even after reading Spurgeon I struggle with the whole calvinism/evangelism issue.
I have enjoyed this part of my program. My prayer is that "hearing" these great preachers in their ministry context will have encouraged my faith... and maybe even help to improve my preaching!