Donald Haynes shares this from his recent “Wesleyan Wisdom” column in the United Methodist Reporter, “Recovering the Power of Wesleyan Preaching“. It is a list of the attributes of “Methodist preaching from Wesley’s time through the 19th century” determined by a prominent chronicler of the movement (“David Hempton, an Irish Methodist who teaches at Harvard Divinity School, writes in his book Methodism: Empire of the Spirit“). I imagine I stack up well on some and not as good on others. Not that it should go without critical engagement, but this is a good list we’d do well to reference for modern preaching in our Methodist tribe.
According to Dr. Hempton, Methodist preaching from Wesley’s time through the 19th century was:
- based on a selected biblical text (not a prescribed one);
- delivered extemporaneously or from a loose structure of notes;
- designed to evoke a response—conversion, sanctification or “warmed up” spirituality;
- delivered in plain language, enlivened by illustration, anecdote or humor;
- within the accepted canon of Wesleyan-Arminian theology
- measured by fruitfulness, not eloquence;
- communicated more from heart to heart than from head to head, not bypassing the mind but not aimed directly at it;
- based on accepting the authority of the Scripture at face value; and
- preached by preachers of much the same social status as their listeners.