Terry Virgo, founder of the Newfrontiers family of churches, was asked to name the five most influential preachers in his life. Not the five best, the five that had influenced him most.
Next comes another great contrast in preaching, namely Timothy Keller. His passion for the gospel and for making it relevant to the hearer is stunning. He is determined to proclaim Christ as the answer, not as some empty cliché but through painstakingly demonstrating that the solution to your personal perplexity, confusion or despair is certainly not an attempt at morality or religion but a vital grasp of the gospel of Christ.
Whatever passage of scripture he handles he has an extraordinary ability to bring its conclusion to the wonder of the person of the Lord Jesus, his death, resurrection and present relevance. He appears to grasp the roots of the problems that people face, address those problems with insight and compassion and then bring from nearly any Bible passage the glory of the gospel.
He sees the gospel everywhere and opens the eyes of his audience to its huge relevance to life, making Jesus the ultimate point of every message. I heard him speak for most of the day to Newfrontiers leaders at a packed Westminster Chapel in London. I heard him again when he was given ridiculously few minutes to speak for Lausanne in Cape Town. On both occasions he profoundly impressed. How could he communicate so much in 17 minutes?
As a result of his influence I have tried much harder to ensure that Jesus and his wonderful gospel are clearly presented in my preaching, whatever my theme might be on that occasion. He has helped me to look for Jesus in every scripture and make him known to my hearers, but I have an awful long way to go.
Nevertheless, I am truly grateful for his influence.
You can read Terry Virgo’s blog here. I’ll blog another of Terry’s five most influential preachers next week.