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Meet Dr. Jim Shaddix, Preaching Professor @ New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Telephone: (504) 282-4455 ext. 3728
Fax: (504) 286-3170
Dean Of Chapel
Associate Professor of Preaching
Director of Professional Doctoral Programs
Author, Power In The Pulpit
Bachelor of Science in Education, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama,1982.
Master of Divinity, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas,1986.
Doctor of Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas,1992.
Doctor of Philosophy, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans,Louisiana,1996
TP: You started/planted Arlington Park Baptist Church in Arlington, TX in the early 80's. We have a lot of church planters that visit this site. Describe what that experience was like now that you are on the "other side" looking back?? Plus, tell us what techniques, styles, etc, did you find helpful in reaching your target crowd as a planter?
JS: Believe it or not, I literally was flying by the seat of my pants! I certainly didn't fit into the typical mold of the contemporary church planter, primarily out of ignorance. Halfway into my master's level work the plethora of church growth books was just beginning to come down the pipe, and I hadn't read too many of them. All I new was that one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation didn't have a whole lot of churches in
it. God had placed a burden on my heart to reach those people. In fact, the burden grew out of a very specific prayer time when God took a specific passage of Scripture and used it to speak directly to me regarding the
church plant. I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened in my life. I think it's the exception, not the rule. But that encounter became the driving force in my life, and it grew into an exciting vision to begin a church. And I think, regardless of approach, every church planter has to allow God to inspire the development of a vision. As far as techniques and approaches, all I knew to do was go door-to-door sharing Jesus and then incorporate people into community Bible studies where I expounded God's Word. And God, by His grace, chose to bless it! Many "experts" even during
that period were saying aggressive soul-winning and expository preaching wouldn't work with those young Baby Boomers and Busters. But I don't think anyone has really ever proved that qualitatively or quantitatively. They sure worked for us!
TP: Last year you contributed to an article in PREACHING Mag on "The 10 Greatest Preachers Of The 20th Century." Who's your #1 pick,and why would that particular preacher be a good one to study for up and coming preachers today??
JS: To be honest, the greatest preacher of the 20th century is probably a guy none of us has ever heard about. That's because greatness in preaching involves so many variables, and there's really no way to measure them all. That gives me hope, and it gives me a hope that I can pass on to all of my students. But as far as names that most of us would recognize, let me give you one evangelist and two pastors because the preaching event is different in so many ways. In the evangelist category, I would have to cast my vote for Billy Graham. Call me predictable, but Dr. Graham has been a
complete package of personal integrity and spirituality, focus on reaching people, and faithfulness to the Word of God. As far as pastors go, G.Campbell Morgan, the "Prince of Expositors," certainly would be at the top of my list of models of pastors who were relentless and unapologetic about shepherding their congregations with a steady diet of God's Word. He was also a pretty good evangelist, too. On this end of the century, I genuinely believe that history will look back on John MacArthur, Jr. as one of the greatest Bible expositor-pastors of the age. On a humorous note, when that article came out I took the magazine home to show my wife. I laid it on the table in front of her and pointed to my name at the bottom of the except. She saw my name, glanced at the title of the article, and ecstatically asked, "You made the list?" I had to burst her bubble, and mine too.
TP: Being a preaching professor, you are able to keep up with trends in preaching. What are some trends, both good ones and bad ones, that you can see coming down the pipe for preachers in the next few years??
JS: I think a good trend is that we're giving more attention to relevance and application than we used to. While we don't have to make the Bible relevant, as preachers we do have the responsibility of establishing its relevancy in the minds of the listeners. Too much preaching has left the Word of God on the other side of the historical bridge. The down side of this same issue is that a prevalent and tragic "over-reaction" has takenplace. Much preaching today has moved from a theo- or Christocentric perspective to an anthropocentric perspective. I don't mean to say that preaching today doesn't involve or discuss the Godhead, but we are much more
concerned about what we need from God or how God can help us than we are about what God wants to say to us. It's the difference between accommodation and revelation. Preaching is not about accommodating man and his whims and desires; it's about God revealing Himself to His creation. When application begins to drive the train instead of providing people a place to sit, we begin to abuse, and even abandon, the true preaching event. I think it all goes back to a misunderstanding about the purpose of the Bible. I firmly believe that God's truth primarily was given to sanctify--or re-create--man back into God's image, not to answer all of his questions. The Bible opens
with man being created in God's image. Sin shows up and messes that image up. Then the Bible closes with man and all creation being re-created into God's original intent. Think of how many passages you know that refer to God's purpose of re-molding man into God's image. If that's the case, then it says something about the way we ought to preach. If the Bible wasn't intended to answer all of man's questions or meet all of his needs, then preachers ought not to try and make it do that. If it was intended to expose them to God's truth that they might be re-created into His image, then that's what preachers ought to let it do. No more, no less. That's why I'm very excited about the resurgence in publications and discussions about expository preaching in the last two decades. I believe such an approach is the heartbeat of preaching on this side of the cross--explaining and applying the Word of God with integrity and persuading people to act on it by the grace of God. Let me just add that I think that many trends--like much of the contemporary narrative homiletic--are over-rated theories that have never been proven in the real world. At the same time, one of the challenges we're now facing is how to do solid, biblical proclamation to the post-modern mind. I think this is an area in which evangelist and pastors are going to have to interact more.
TP: What is the hardest thing to teach to your preaching students?? That is,are there certain areas of weakness that you notice in many preaching students that they must learn to overcome???
JS: Without question--passion. You can't teach passion. The best you can hope to do is inspire it. Certainly I'm grieved by poor theology. And I despise hearing a preacher abuse a text of Scripture. But I hear so many guys with good theology and who do good biblical exposition present the truth of God's Word as if it were a "take it or leave it" issue. There's nothing worse than hearing a preacher and not be able to tell if he really believes what he's saying. And it's probably one of the more underestimated issues in the effectualness of preaching to contemporary audiences. I believe with all of my heart that preachers wouldn't be so tempted to go chasing after the latest fad in preaching or to embrace a new ideology about audience analysis if they simply would expound the Word of God with passion and conviction. I'm telling you, X'ers and Millennials and every other group will embrace a guy who has passion and conviction even if he wears a suit and tie, stands behind a pulpit, and alliterates his sermon.
TP: What made you want to be a "teacher" of preachers???
JS: It was the call of God. I don't mean to sound trite, but I realize that many people feel like seminary professors are there by default ... either they couldn't make it in the real world or they're too lazy, or something like that. But I was in the middle of an exciting, growing local church. I was the first and only pastor. We never heard anybody say,"We've never done it that way before," because we hadn't done it any way
before. Nobody ever said to me, "Sonny, we were here before you got here and..." because they weren't there before me. What I'm saying is that if God wanted me to pastor, I would have never left that place. It was fun! But right in the middle of it all, God began to burden me to get in a context where I could impact the lives of young ministers, especially in their personal spiritual lives. I begin to notice that many of the pastors I ran with used language in our private meetings that they would never use in their pulpits. I heard them tell jokes that they would never tell their people. And some of these guys were "successful" pastors. That led me to one
of the scariest discoveries of my ministry: It's possible to grow a church by all the standards we gauge success, and yet all the time be doing it in the flesh. That scared me to death. And so God began to burden me to go back to school in order to prepare to get in a context where I hopefully could
impact the spiritual lives of young ministers-in-training at an early stage. And He's been gracious to fulfill that calling within the context of my passion for the preaching event.
TP: You've recently co-authored a preaching book with Jerry Vines, a well known pastor/preacher, titled "Power In The Pulpit." What separates this book from other preaching books? If a pastor bought it, what areas would it help in his preaching ministry?
JS: As you know, the book was developed from two outstanding works Dr. Jerry Vines originally did back in the 80's. To be honest, I just did my best not to mess them up! I think two things are at least somewhat unique about Power in the Pulpit. First, the book is co-authored by two practitioners--one a pastor, one an academician. Many books on preaching today--especially those that champion questionable trends--are written by men who are no longer in the pastorate or who are in denominations where preachers preach one time each week for 15 minutes. That's a radically different philosophy and practice of preaching than most pastors do in
evangelical circles. Jerry Vines is a respected pastor who is practicing solid biblical exposition on a week-in and week-out basis. He knows the ins and outs of preparing and preaching biblical sermons. In addition to preaching multiple times each week, hopefully what I bring to the table is a little extra time spent in analyzing the mechanics of the preaching event--both preparation and delivery. In other words, Dr. Vines spends his time outside the pulpit doing the other responsibilities of a pastor, and I spend my time outside the pulpit studying the preaching event. So the book brings those two areas of experience together and hopefully makes a connection with the real world of pastoral preaching. The second uniqueness of the book is that it addresses both preparation and delivery. There are allot of books on sermon preparation, even expository sermon preparation. And we're beginning to see more books on delivery now. But there are very few books out there that treat both subjects together. This book tries to address the whole process all the way from theology to philosophy to inception of a sermon idea to presentation of the message.
TP: Many pastors/preachers/teachers visit this site. If you could say one thing to preachers today on a mass scale, what would it be?? (Or, to say it another way, what advice do you have for those of us in the field that would help us to become better communicators of the gospel??)
JS: Two things. First, stay on your face before God. In other words, keep your heart close to His through regular, personal worship. Second, treat the Word of God with integrity. Before you stand up and say, "Thus saith the Lord," you better make sure you know what the Lord saith! That means we've got to study the text and be true to communicating it in keeping with the Holy Spirit's original intent.