Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas. His church has over 5,000 members, and Matt’s main role is bringing the Word of God to them. In this interview Matt offers insight into his preaching habits, discovering your preaching gifts, and developing leaders.
1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
The Spirit of God moving through the preaching of the Word is the driving force at The Village. Our groups rally around it, our missions flow out of it and our community is built on it.
2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
It was quite by accident. I began by the invitation of a friend to teach a Sunday School class my freshman year of college. God did some tremendous things in that class and it led to other opportunities to teach. I had a bad experience at a small church before I arrived in Abilene and didn’t think I was going to end up in the church. God continued to grow my influence as a teacher/preacher and about a year later I was preaching in front of about 1000 college students every Thursday night.
3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
On average 6-10 hours. It used to take me much longer but the more I have studied and preached the quicker it has started to come.
4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I think it’s extremely important to tap into a major theme or point so that your hearers walk away knowing what the Word said about whatever the theme or point was. I know this will sound like an oversimplification but I want to let the text crystallise it.
5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
This is a hard question because I think everything from context to content plays into the answer. I think a preacher needs to be himself. To learn from other preachers but not when all is said and done to emulate them. In a day where you can listen to anyone and watch anyone by simply clicking a button on your phone or computer I think it’s important to find your own voice so the kingdom doesn’t get a carbon copy of someone else.
6. What notes, if any, do you use?
My notes are a bit of a hybrid manuscript/outline. I try not to look at them while I am preaching so I study those notes and pray a ton before I step out on stage.
7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
The greatest peril for a preacher is wanting the acceptance and approval of his listeners. This is a serious thing that we have been called to and we will regularly have to say things that our culture thinks is foolish and the religious find offensive.
8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)?
It’s important for me to do both so I set aside blocks of time each week for both. Tuesdays and Thursdays are study days for me. I put together sermons and pray and study on those two days. The rest of the week I am meeting with people and trying to shepherd well the people God has asked me to lead.
9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
John Stott’s book Between Two Worlds and John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching are two of my favorite books on preaching. I more recently read Tony Merida’s book Faithful Preaching and thought it was excellent.
10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing of future preachers?
The main two ways we nurture and encourage is reps and feedback. We want to create different venues for our young men to preach and then we want to give them honest and straight feedback about how they handled the text, how they engaged the crowd, whether they communicated clearly, etc.