The Need for Preachers with Quality

By Dr. Justus Samuel

The writer was discussing with a highly knowledgeable gentleman from a Western land on missionary matters. In the course of the talk, he posed a question that had engaged his thinking often – ‘where are the leaders?’

Look at any sphere of human activity today; whether in Politics, Economics and other Sciences, or Religion, the giants are few, if any. We are confronted with a world of mediocrity, and this is bound to affect the future adversely. The standards are likely to go down the incline. And this despite the fact that we have today centers of high learning in every imaginable discipline, and men are, no doubt, cleverer than in the past half a century.

Pulpit Giants
When it comes to preaching, this is no exception. The world saw some real ‘giants’ of the pulpit in the eighteenth and the past centuries - men like John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney. We acknowledge that there are masters of the platform in our day - men who can draw audiences in hundreds of thousands, and there is a good deal of emotional - potential or charismatic attraction. Many of the preachers are sincere, but they preach to a relatively superficial crowd. If Spurgeon developed a sermon on 10 points, the modern speaker dwells on two or three.

The former’s audiences were more serious and gave of their time. Spiritual matters counted with them. We agree that days have changed and the length of preaching cannot be anywhere as long as in the last century. However, the ‘meat’ should still be there to be effective. This means that the preacher has to discipline himself and perhaps spend hours together to collate his material logically.

Even in former days, some of the giants like Whitefield were short speakers, but men with tremendous appeal. He went to the extent of saying that if one spoke for more than half an hour he must be an angel or his audience angels. But remember, Whitefield’s preaching was more to awaken people to spiritual realities, while Surgeon’s preaching was to people with a religious background drawn from the professions and the intelligent classes. Dr. Billy Graham did not speak for more than half an hour, but whatever he mentioned –statistics or historical references, or Greek or Hebrew references had been thoroughly pre-checked to avoid any possible error.

Among the Brethren
Speaking generally, their preachers were not the specimen with evangelistic thrust - they were more of the order of teachers and expounders. They combined the gospel with teaching, and this had considerable effect as evidenced in J. N. Darby’s ministry in Europe. The U.S. and Canada have a few men of this general stamp, but more open than JND.
However, the movement produced some real gems, for instance, Henry Moorhouse of Manchester, who within a short life-span of 40 years did tremendous work of preaching. In his early youth, he invited himself to Chicago to preach at Moody’s church and spoke for consecutive nights on John 3:16, with dramatic spiritual effect. His preaching altered the style of Moody himself, and he gained the reputation as the one who inspired Moody to preach to countless multitudes. This young man was one of the Brethren.
Coming to the Indian scene, Andhra had two very effective preachers – Canada’s Silas Fox who came to be known as the ‘White Fox’ and K. P. Agrippa the ‘Black Fox’. Between the two of them mainly based in the Anantapur region their preaching resulted in the salvation of many hundreds and provided grounding for the nearly 150 virile assemblies in South Andhra.

Although Silas Fox was originally a Baptist Pastor in Canada, he threw his weight with congregations known as ‘Brethren’ among whom he found satisfying fellowship and much fruit in service. The more vibrant assemblies in the region owe much to these servants, now in glory.

In the Kerala region, the most outstanding preacher was the late Mahakavi (noted poet) K.V. Simon. He addressed large companies, but although a great scholar, he was self-effacing and spoke in simple, homely style. The ministry had a tremendous apologetic value vis-à-vis Hindu religion chauvinists and tradition-bound Syrians. Most others who succeeded him were at least for a time under his tutelage, but turned out to be popular preachers and teachers.

The names of three stalwarts occur to us - unconnected with the Simon tradition, namely Fredrick Numby (ex-pastor of Basel Mission) and a trained theologian, P.V. George, famed author of ‘The Unique Christ and the Mystic Gandhi’ and E.P. Varghese of Angamaly. The last named was a business man who turned out to be a very eloquent preacher, original in his matter distilled out of the Word and sound, penetrating logic.

Preachers Today
There are promising preachers even today, but not quite of the same stamp as those mentioned. Kerala initially looked down upon any who was theologically qualified, and we still painfully remember a brother who took a degree from Serampore, largely ignored and suffered much financially. Things have changed, but those with the advantage of training do not manifest the same robust conviction in church truths as the early leaders possessed.

Both Andhra and Kerala call for committed preachers and teachers, men of conviction and commitment, who could be comparable to the best of their counterpart in the West including Australia and New Zealand. South - East Asia, especially Singapore has produced some fine evangelists, of the stamp of Dr. G.D. James who have local and wider impact.

The Lord’s arm is still mighty, and although the society is changing faster than in the older times, He can raise men with a message from the throne.



More:- An index for all studies

You can reproduce this article in any medium, provided it is unedited, and retain the original author / copyright information and reference to this website. Please feel free to write for details    gracepeaceu AT