The Preacher and the Congregation (Kuyper)

I appreciate some of the things Abraham Kuyper (d. 1920) said about the pastor and the congregation in chapter 29 of Our Worship.  Here are a few examples.

“It is important… to think carefully about the position of the minister in relation to the congregation. …He lives in the midst of his congregation as an ambassador of his Sender.  Yet he is also a brother among brothers, but only insofar as he shares in the same needs and survives because of the same grace.  He who preaches must preach to himself first of all.  His preaching must first grip his soul, and must be a testimony from God to his own soul.  The sermon must have stood the test that his own being was humbled by it, raised up, gripped, comforted, and edified.”

“He must take [the] command that is God’s and appropriate it, feel it, and understand it for himself.  The work of God, the word of God, the decrees of God, the promises of God, or whatever it may be that he will preach on, must have seized and moved and stirred him.”

‘[The preacher] does not appear before the congregation as a stranger, but as a family member in the house of the Lord.  The foundation therefore is a spiritual unity, and a mutual trust rests on that.  The preacher is not a professor who teaches from behind a lectern; he is not a general addressing the troops; he is not a populist speaker who tries to win over the crowd; but he is a participant in the good news who speaks to the other participants about the good news.”

“A good preacher does not cast his eyes and words beyond the congregation, but looks at them, engages them, and talks to them.”

“…A long exposition of the facts or propositions with a short application is in conflict with the nature of a sermon.  The application must not be the dinghy behind the ship.  Rather, the purpose of the sermon is really in the application.  The whole service of the Word centers on the edification and building up of the congregation.”

“The gospel must certainly always be preached.  But preaching the gospel is not a monotonous repetition of the same thing all the time; rather, it is to let the rich tints of the light beams of the gospel sparkle as through a prism.”

“A sermon does not have to be long.  Stretching it out serves no useful purpose.  There is, after all, another sermon in the evening.  And after six days one starts again.  There should be no attempt to say everything at once; neither should there be a wasting of time on all sorts of things that nobody is interested in.  …The sermon must in every part and every sentence give something to the listener.  Not bread and stones, but bread only, with all the stones removed.”

Abraham Kuyper, Our Worship, trans. and ed. Henry Boonstra, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009).

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hammond, WI

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One comment on “The Preacher and the Congregation (Kuyper)

  1. angie5804 says:

    “A long exposition of the facts or propositions with a short application is in conflict with the nature of a sermon. The application must not be the dinghy behind the ship. rather, the purpose of the sermon is really in the application. The whole service of the Word centers on the edification and building up of the congregation”

    This is refreshing

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