Michael Quicke on Preaching

Seedbed posted an interview of Michael Quicke, who teaches at Northern Seminary. The interview is broken into three parts: one, two, and three.

Quicke has written a couple of books on preaching that are actually still on my reading pile: 360-Degree Preaching: Hearing, Speaking, and Living the Word (paperback) and 360-Degree Leadership: Preaching to Transform Congregations (Kindle). After listening to the video interviews, these books may rise a little higher on the pile!

Quicke outlines four models of preaching: Herald Preaching (proclaiming), Teacher Preaching (the trap is explaining Scripture rather than teaching/proclaiming Scripture), Inductive Preaching (responding to needs), and Narrative Preaching (living within God’s story and seeing our stories within in it). He focuses on narrative preaching, noting that it’s not simply about telling a lot of stories. “No, you engage with the story of the text.”

Quicke advises looking “for the trouble in the text” because it’s going to be trouble for us and will point to what we need help on. He says …

The narrative preacher dwells in the story and understands that there’s a plot and a movement, and then in sermon form … you’re within a story which frames where you’re going.

When Quicke listens to preachers (including students), he’s wondering …

  • Has the preacher got something that God is saying in the text … about what God is doing in the text?
  • Has the preacher been immersed in the text?

When the preacher has been immersed in the text, “this Scripture means something to them and it’s come alive for them and it’s coming alive to me.” When the sermon is properly structured, Quicke says you get a “sense of the journey that the preacher’s been on, which is what preaching is all about.”

I love Quicke’s suggestion of immersing yourself in the text before consulting commentaries (my post, The 4 Ss of Sermon Preparation begins with “soaking,” and comes before “study”). Quicke argues, “pastors go to commentaries too quickly” (usually because they’re busy!). He adds, “What really matters is that we spend time with the text before we consult commentaries and that time is spent prayerfully.” He suggests reading the text out loud slowly and prayerfully so that you can hear the text. “Living in the text is a spiritual thing … a discipline.”

As you read the text, pray …

Lord, speak to me through this, help me through this … you’re dealing with me first so that I can deal with the people.

Asked about the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, Quicke made the case for 360° preaching. He says the old model was 180° preaching where you have the Bible on one side and the hearers on one side and the preacher makes the connection. In that model, “a lot of the work depends on the preacher.”

In 360° preaching …

God speaks and the preacher is responsible for listening. Jesus is at the center; he’s the preacher; it’s his church. The bottom of the circle is the delivery and the rest of the circle is the response because it’s what happens afterward that really counts.

In this understanding, the Father, Son, and Spirit are all involved. He says, “we can’t do it without them.”

Quicke adds …

It’s a way of looking at preaching as participating in the trinity. It’s a big idea in terms of shaping it instead of me doing something, me participating with God, because of what he wants to do through me. It’s very humbling, but it’s very encouraging … because it means when you’re exhausted … you say, if the Lord’s calling me to this, he’s actually in the whole process.

Quicke responded to a question about preachers telling personal stories. He noted that the culture now expects preachers to be authentic, to show how they’re not immune to trouble. He says …

For preachers to be authentic, we expect some exposure … but it’s a delicate balance. You’ve got the keep the balance and remember that Jesus is preeminent.

Quoting John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” he argues this is “vital for preachers.” He warns …

If you’re taking any glory for yourself, it comes at the expense of Jesus. … You can’t magnify yourself and magnify Jesus at the same time. You tell a funny story about yourself, you’re going to have to work really hard to get back to the Lord.”

Quicke says you have to be careful how much of your allotted time you “use up on yourself.” He says, “make sure that ‘he must increase’ and that means not too much of myself, though enough of myself, and especially if it’s an evangelistic sermon, where you want people to know ‘I’ve met Jesus.'”

I personally found this interview helpful and challenging. I hope it’s helpful for you, too!

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