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Wesley's Rules for Preaching

In my reading as I prepare to leave Tuesday for our Educational Opportunities Tour of Wesley Heritage sites in England, I came across the following comment: “The best general method of preaching (in every sermon) was outlined: to invite, to convince, to offer Christ and to build up” (Richard P. Heitzenrater, Wesley and the People Called Methodist, p. 145). Such guidelines offered by the Rev. John Wesley set me to reflecting on my own preaching.  Do I, in all my sermons, invite, convince, offer Christ and build up.  I would like to think I do but am haunted by the suspicion that I cannot really pass a close examination.  In our day and time we day we tend to be best at “building up.”  Even though we live in a post-Christendom age, we often assume that people know Christ and are convinced.  I do not think this is really the case.  Wesley’s advice is still good today.  I need to be more diligent in examining my sermons based on Wesley’s admonition – invite, convince, offer Christ and build up. In 1747 Wesley followed up with some specific rules for preaching:

1747 Rules for Preaching

1.         Be sure to begin and end precisely at the time appointed. 2.         Sing no hymns of your own composing. 3.         Endeavour to be serious, weighty, and solemn in your whole deportment               before the congregation. 4.         Choose the plainest tests you can. 5.         Take care not to ramble from you test, but to keep close to it, and make out              what you undertake. 6.         Always suit your subject to your audience. 7.         Beware of allegorizing or spiritualizing too much. 8.         Take care of anything awkward or affected, either in your gesture or              pronunciation. 9.         Tell each other, if you observe anything of this kind. (Minutes [1747], 38;  taken from Wesley and the People Called Methodists by Richard P. Heitzenrater, pg. 164)