The Life-Flowing Congregational Element of Exchange in True Preaching

I don’t know of any single preacher other than Martyn Lloyd-Jones who brings this matter out in words, namely that preaching has a congregational element of exchange to it. It involves not only what the preacher contributes in speaking, but what the congregation contributes in listening. Lloyd-Jones puts it this way,

Another element to which I attach importance is that the preacher while speaking should in a sense be deriving something from his congregation. There are those present in the congregation who are spiritually-minded people, and filled with the spirit, and they make their contribution to the occasion. There is always an element of exchange in true preaching. This is another way of showing the vital distinction between an essay and a lecture on the one hand, and a preached sermon on the other hand. The man who reads his essay gets nothing from his audience, he has it all there before him in what he has written; there is nothing new or creative taking place, no exchange. But the preacher—though he has prepared, and prepared carefully—because of this element of spiritual freedom is still able to receive something from the congregation, and does so. There is an interplay, action and response, and this often makes a very vital difference.1

This flat out removes the idea that church is anything less than an assembling of the saints under the Word of Christ to have the benefits of Christ applied to them through the ordinary means of grace each Lord’s Day. Moreover, it heightens the relationship between a pastor and his congregation, and the relationship the congregation has with their pastor—as being something really vital and life-flowing!


Preaching and Preachers, p.84