Interview of Dr. Hershael York, Speaker at our Mile High Preaching Conference

hershaelI happily sent Dr. Hershael York some questions about his background and his passion for preaching.  He serves as Preaching Professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY as well as Senior Pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY. He is a gifted preacher and communicator, and has authored an incredibly helpful book, “Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition.”

For more information about the conference, click here.


1.   Why did you feel the need to write a book on expository preaching?

In my 20’s I read three books that changed my life and ministry. Walt Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology, John Stott’s Between Two Worlds (softcover | Kindle), and D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies (Softcover | Kindle). These books reshaped and revolutionized the way I thought about preaching. I became convinced of the power of the inspired text to speak for itself. Then, in my 30’s, I became acquainted with the work of Bert Decker, a leading communications expert. He helped me understand why I could hear two preachers deliver the same basic truth, yet one of them would bore me to tears while the other would excite and inspire me. I always knew that God used the human vessel to deliver the sacred message, but Decker helped me understand the importance of delivery. I wanted to write a book on preaching that combined all of those elements: a commitment to the text, to the authorial intent, and to the necessity of showing its relevance to a contemporary world by engaging delivery.

2.   What role do you see expository preaching playing in the life of the church?

Expository preaching is the nourishment of the body. Individual members may grow through their private devotions and Bible study, but the community of believers gets fed collectively by the public preaching of the Word.

3.   Who has been your greatest influence as a preacher?  Who is your favorite preacher?

My father remains my greatest influence, primarily because he taught me the stories of the Bible. He made it come alive. I would say, “Tell me some Bible stories” and he would choose the most fascinating stores and highlight the details in such a way that I felt like I was in it. His Bible stories were the main tool God used to give me a love for the Word. Apart from my dad, John Stott, Donald Grey Barnhouse, J. Vernon McGee (particularly his Sunday sermons preached in Church of the Open Door), and Adrian Rogers were major influences in my early years. In the years I’ve been teaching at Southern, Bryan Chapell, Alistair Begg, Russ Moore, Al Mohler, and Robert Smith have each had significant impact on my thinking and preaching.

4.   What role does the local church play in training preachers?

I am first, last, and always a churchman. The local church IS the training ground for preachers. Seminary has its role, but it cannot and must not supplant the church. Seminary does not qualify a man for ministry; the church does. Every seminary in the world could disappear and the church would be just fine. The opposite is not true, however. Without the church, the seminary has neither right nor reason to exist. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for her. Churches ought never to think that seminary qualifies a man to be a pastor. That’s why we believe in ordination, a formal means by which a church can say, “We know this man. We’ve observed this man. He exhibits godly character, biblical knowledge, the qualifications of and aptitude for ministry, and we give him our blessing.” All a seminary can do is say “This man passed our academic program.” I’m grateful for seminaries and Bible colleges. They have their place and make the church’s task easier, provided that they are teaching what the biblical foundations to support the church. 

5.   What would be some of the basic areas you would cover in training lay preachers who have no theological training whatsoever?

Anyone who hopes to preach the Word needs a basic understanding of the Bible, so biblical content is the first place to start. Make them read the Bible, memorize the order of the books of the Bible, and the redemptive-historical view of Scripture that puts Christ at the pinnacle of revelation.

6.   What can we expect from you at the Mile High Preaching Conference?

I love preaching, talking about preaching, and talking preaching with preachers. I hope to impart some nuts-and-bolts knowledge of preaching (how do you account for genre and different kinds of literature, for example), but I especially hope to convey some real excitement about preaching.

If you’re interested in more information about the Mile High Preaching Conference, click here.

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