An Interview with Your Favorite Preacher’s Favorite Preacher: Dick Lucas

LRI’s Global Ministries Director Todd Kelly recently caught up with Dick Lucas after the EMA Conference in London. Lucas’ preaching ministry and training of expositors has influenced many top evangelical preachers including Kent Hughes, David Helm, Alistair Begg, William Taylor, and Vaughan Roberts. Tim Keller says that he owes “a debt I can never repay” to Dick Lucas.

In our time with Dick, we shared with him how his legacy through Proclamation Trust is reaching into over 40 countries across the world through the Training National Trainers program, in many cases taking training to the literal ends of the earth.

We thought it would be valuable to have Dick share his story, the story of Proclamation Trust, and talk about the life-giving power of God’s Word. Listen to the audio below or download the mp3.



Read the transcript of the interview:

  1. 00:00—13:30 | Dick Lucas’ Early Years and what C.S. Lewis was like as a professor
  2. 13:30—32:05 | Dick’s Beginnings in Ministry & Growing as a Preacher
  3. 32:05—37:52 | The History and Development of Proclamation Trust
  4. 37:52—56:25 | Expository Preaching and Its Impact
  5. 56:25—end | Dick Lucas on the Cultural Moment

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Dick Lucas on the Cultural Moment (Part 5 of 5)

What follows is the final part of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below (starting at 56:25) or download the mp3.


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TK: As you look around us today, there are many things that are quite discouraging. You turn on the television or the radio or get online you can hear many discouraging stories that are going on in the world politically, socially, etc. I just wondered, are you a pessimist, an optimist? How do you view the world in the light of the Word of God?

DL: I’m a pessimist and an optimist. C.S. Lewis is very good on this, isn’t he? He says about my parent’s generation they had a vague theism with a very strong ethic. I think that is a brilliant description of the middle classes in Britain in the first 50 years of the century. That’s my parents—a vague theism with a very strong ethic.

My father was of ultimate integrity and there were many like him. But it wasn’t based upon a personal Christian faith. Lewis says that goes right back to the Victorian era. It’s when the great attack came on the Christian, the last quarter of the 19th century. So, this attack on the churches have been going on a long time, you know 1 Peter tells you that persecution is the danger, 2 Peter tells you that false teaching within is the danger. It is the latter, which is far more deadly. That has been going on in this country now for over 100 years. So, I’m not optimistic about the state of the older churches. I think we are reaping what we sowed. It’s a precipice, not a gradual slip down since I was ordained. In the last 10 years, it’s become a precipice.

From that point of view, I think the young are going to face persecution in a way that my generation did not. We saw the emptying of the official churches through false teaching. I’m optimistic that God, as usual, is ahead of the game and long ago was raising people up to preach. It is the only answer. The young are totally ignorant. People are struggling to know, at the moment. So many of our university students voted for a Marxist and nearly made him Prime Minister. Some people think it’s “Harry Potter thinking”, some people think it’s just typical university rebellion. But the answer is that our universities are full of extremely ignorant people. They don’t know anything about God or Christ. That’s the result of 100 years and that’s not going to be rebuilt in a day.

But I am optimistic when I see that all these young men are coming along. I mean it’s thrilling to see them in very large numbers They are going to have a tough time aren’t they, but God will have His leaders amongst them. I think probably are in for some fiery trials, but that never actually destroys the church. What destroys the church is the false teaching, the liberalism.

I can remember my theological college. Men coming in battered by this, unconverted men coming to theological college. We had a lot of conversions at theological college. And then they sailed through all this false teaching. One worked in Kuala Lumpur until he died last year. Another worked in Cheshire all his life. They were converted at theological college, brother! After that, the poison didn’t destroy them.

The only way back is to use the sword of the Spirit. As the church recovers itself, if God gives us time, I don’t know what we shall see. There’s going to be a big war, isn’t there? We’re in for very uncomfortable times in Europe, aren’t we? It’s difficult to see how they will avoid civil war in between the old guard and the Muslims. Who are we to say? Germany has got itself into a terrible twist with all these millions of immigrants, which it can’t handle.

But we at least know that God has His purposes and as long as we follow them. We can only have hope that the church will become pyre in the land again. Our country needs prayer tremendously. I doubt if a single person in the cabinet has any knowledge of the Bible at all. Tragically, in that absolute mess of the election that the Prime Minister made one of the finest Christian MPs lost his seat. That’s a very big loss. But there are good Christian men in parliament. I don’t think there is an educated Christian in the cabinet. There may be. I don’t know the junior members, but none of them seem to show any signs of understanding. And the powers against us, at the moment, appear very frightening, but we mustn’t be frightened by them. The gay lobby is immensely powerful and yet it’s only a tiny minority. It’s amazing how they manage to command the news, isn’t it?

TK: Dick as we come to a close, there may be preachers and teachers of the Word that are listening in, maybe others that are a part of a church and they love the Word of God. Is there anything you would say to them, in closing, about expository preaching?

DL: It is the sword of the Spirit. If you want to go into battle without a sword, dear brother, you are not very wise. But if you think the battle is going to be hot, you better get your sword out and get it clean. At least we’ve got a sword and there’s no doubt that it does its work. We don’t do the work. We have to work hard, but it’s the sword that does the work. Thank God for it. If we weren’t equipped with that, the church would be in a very desperate position, which is why it is in a desperate position in this country and has no respect, I think, from the man or woman in the street. That’s a terrible thing. It did when I was young. When I was ordained the church was still respected. Not now. It’s our own fault. It is not because the world has become more materialistic, it’s not because the world has become more scientific, it’s not because the kids are taken in by Harry Potter, it’s because we have not done our job. Israel lost it’s battles not because the enemy, the Philistine, were strong but because they were not trusting in God, isn’t that the story of the Old Testament? Even if they were few if they trusted in God, then they kicked the Philistines out. So, in that sense, I’m optimistic, that God has His purposes and it’s wonderful to see all these young people on a Sunday night here listening to the Word of God. They are sending in new courage.


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Dick Lucas on Expository Preaching and Its Impact (Part 4 of 5)

What follows is Part Four of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below (starting at 37:52) or download the mp3.



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TK: As we are thinking about preaching, especially expository preaching, there’re many definitions of that term. I’m sure you have heard many of them. How do you understand expository preaching?

DL: I would be sorry to think that there is only one way. At the moment, criticisms have been leveled at evangelical preaching today, that it’s too much like a lecture. I agree that there is something in that criticism. The idea seems to be that we all take things from each other. It seems that the pattern at the moment is taking a whole chapter. I’m not against that; it depends on where you are. If you’re taking a narrative in the Old Testament naturally, you may take a chapter or two chapters. But to take a whole chapter of Paul or Isaiah is quite heavy going for the congregation, isn’t it. I think at the moment I want check on that because I think it’s gone a bit too far. The people think of a running commentary on a chapter is expository preaching. I don’t think that’s necessarily expository preaching at all. It’s a pattern that can be used, but I do think the bread of life does have to be broken up.

“Expository preaching is taking the Bible seriously as the Word of God.” Dick Lucas

I think we need a bit more simplicity at the moment. I think at the moment we need more application to the heart. We’ve become a bit cold and theoretical. These criticisms are easily made. It’s like a boat. I learned this from the steersmen in the Navy. When you change a ship, even a liner, you do it by tiny little touches on the tiller. Even with the Queen Mary, you’re only doing it an inch at a time to swing it ’round. All I’m talking about is touching the tiller a little bit too far in academic, slightly heavy-lecture sermons. I don’t think that’s wise. I wouldn’t want to say that the people doing that are not expounding the Word. They are trying very much to do so. They’ve trapped themselves, so they tend to be too long and often not reach out to the people. They are so intent on telling you what the chapter is saying they get very little further than that.

Charles Spurgeon

How different was Spurgeon? I mean, Spurgeon would just take a text… but then he was a genius. You don’t learn how to teach the Bible from geniuses. But we could learn something from Spurgeon.

Expository preaching is taking the Bible seriously as the Word of God, that’s the key to it. It is the very Word of God. Therefore, I assume what none of my theological learning assumed, that it is correct and there is no quibble about it. I’ve got to find out why it says it in the way that it says it and for the purpose it says it. It’s really as simple as that. It all starts with a belief in the actual inspiration of Scripture, and only evangelicals have that. Which is why you hear such rubbish if you go to the cathedral or anywhere like that on a Sunday. I ought to say our cathedrals are full, because they are full of refugees from liberal churches who come for the setting experience and a very well-arranged service. That’s why the cathedrals are doing quite well.

I’ve got to find out why it says it in the way that it says it and for the purpose it says it. It’s really as simple as that.

TK: I like the way you define that: why it says it, the way it says it, for the purpose it says it.

DL: Yes, you see Jonathan is always saying, “What is the surprise?” When I look at a text, the danger is to impose. The opposite of exposition is imposition. I bring my framework. I bring my ideas. I bring my theology and I place that on the text. Well, you know these lessons. We teach people not to go beyond the Bible, we teach them not to go below the Bible. Those are vital issues, aren’t they? My theological college was the Bible minus. Fanaticism, the charismatic movement, is so often the Bible plus. Now that’s a very interesting case you see. There’s a tremendous lot of life here through Holy Trinity. It is probably the very major Church of England and the world financially and in influence. It’s the church that the archbishop goes by. That’s the evangelicalism he likes. But their authority is really the Holy Spirit.

A young man came to me only a fortnight ago to spend the afternoon to tell me that his congregation has charismatics. They’re retired people from London who said to him, “We only want a ten-minute sermon. We want more worship.” And that sounds thoroughly sincere and good-hearted but what it means is we don’t want to sit under the Word of God. We want what comes out of our own heart. If you make the Holy Spirit your authority, where does the Holy Spirit dwell? In my heart, and you can’t help getting this muddled up with my sinful self, can you? For a long time now the charismatic movement, the authority is the Holy Spirit with Scripture. Our authority is Scripture alone. Within 20 years that will be a liberal evangelical movement.

This is what we are wrestling with at the moment because as several people have said to me if Holy Trinity would come out against same-sex marriage, it could not pass in the Church of England. The archbishop needs someone to strengthen his arm. But if Holy Trinity will not, do that I think the Anglican Church here is probably doomed to give way. Not by saying anything but by being totally incapable of disciplining clergy who do it. It’s going to happen. That’s how the enemy does it. So, you say “No, this is not our policy,” but over here Bill marries another man (if you call that marriage). The bishop knows that the only way to get rid of him is to go to law. This will fill the gutter press and cost a fortune and produce endless ill will. So they don’t do it.

Sorry, we’ve moved on from expository preaching. But see this is the attractive thing to young people. The authority of the Spirit seems freeing. But we are free under the Word. There is no such thing as freedom that does not have submission. Otherwise, it becomes simply anarchy.

TK: What you’re saying highlights something very important. What is the impact you’ve seen expository preaching have on either individuals or churches?

DL: There’s not doubt it transforms people’s lives. Dull preaching doesn’t attract people. Long preaching and lectures don’t attract people. I just think we’ve got the devil tweaking our tail all the time, haven’t we. He knows we’ve got something good. All he has to do is put a little bit of poison in or just distract us. So, of course, it’s transforming people’s lives all the time. I think at the moment we are a little complacent.

Expository preaching is not at the expense of prayer, of witness and study.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I don’t want to discourage anybody, but I think we’ve become a bit complacent. We think we are being more effective than sometimes we are. Expository preaching is not at the expense of prayer, of witness and study. I think, there’s no time for boasting at the moment, in this country. We know what we are meant to be doing. At least a large number of evangelicals do. God has been very merciful to us. We’ve seen the fruit of it, we’ve seen what it does to change churches and change lives. We’ve seen the excitement of it, but perhaps at the moment, we’ve become a little bit complacent. I don’t know. It’ll be different in different places won’t it?

TK: When expository preaching is not a priority in the life of the church, what are some of the consequences?

DL: I don’t know. The answer in the country, of course, is empty churches. I don’t really know how the liberals fill the churches. I can’t see that they do. I’ve never done any fieldwork in this way. I was intrigued to find that the cathedrals are doing well. I can understand that. It’s a wonderful setting experience. It’s a false experience in some ways, isn’t it? I mean these little boys who have to practice every day. It’d be much wiser and healthier to be out on the football field, but that’s not up to me to criticize. I think that’s why they’re full, I don’t think that’s going to change anything.

TK: Why do you think more preachers do not do expository preaching?

DL: Well, they’re lazy for one thing. Secondly, of course, if you don’t think the Bible has got anything to offer you, you won’t spend any more time. We spoke just now to somebody on a Saturday night, if you do your sermon preparation on Saturday night it means that you’re not taking it seriously. An awful lot of clergy in the old days did their preparation on Saturday night. Which is just playing at it isn’t it. This is, I think, is something we all had to learn that you had to do your study in the morning and your people will not understand it. I think we have to help our younger men to realize nobody’s going to understand why they’re closeting themselves. Even their wives will be crying out for them to deal with the baby’s nappies, diapers or whatever it is you call them in America, and you won’t have the discipline to say, “I’ve got to do this work in the morning.” If a man gives way to his wife’s demands, if he gives way to the parish’s demands in the end, he will be a man frittering around doing this job at this hour, that job, at that hour then the undertaker calls up the next hour. So he rushes down to the crematorium… His work is never seriously concentrating. I think parish-work like that can become a terrible time waster.

We do have to tell people rich preaching doesn’t come out of nowhere. You have to get your head down and kick the dog out and take your cup of tea or coffee and work for at least two hours every morning. I asked Kevin DeYoung (we said goodbye this morning [after EMA], “How do you prepare with seven children?” He said, “I just switch off and I can work in the middle of all the noise.” Thank God for that—I couldn’t do that. I used to work at the old British Library, sometimes in desperation, because the weekend had been so full I would go immediately on Tuesday morning. I would actually start my preparation on the Friday or Saturday, but I would go on Tuesday morning and nobody can get at you in the reading room at the British Library. There is wonderful and powerful silence—even if you sneeze they will look at you. In two hours there I would do more work than four hours in the day. You’ve got to fight for that. Expository preaching is a discipline, isn’t it? Unless you get used to that in your young years you won’t do it. You already know that. It’s hard work, isn’t it?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a brilliant orator, unique mind, and yet he says quite openly ‘the sermons that God used most of mine were the sermons I’ve worked the hardest on.’ To many people that is extraordinary. They want a sermon where God falls upon you. There is the greatest preacher of his era saying, ‘the sermons God used most were the ones I worked the hardest on.’ It’s a strange thing. It’s the Holy Spirit through our hard work and we know our hard work is useless without the Spirit.

TK: You’ve worked at this a long time, working with younger men at expository preaching. Much of our work at LRI is in that same line. I’m wondering, what have you found over time that best encourages expository preaching?

DL: The results, isn’t it. When people hear it, they say, “We want to do it.” It’s not giving lectures on it really. When you heard John Stott at the height of his powers in the 50’s, you said, “I want to preach like that.” I wouldn’t have been able to put it into words, but as a 15-year-old witless athlete of the lower fourth, I knew that I was hearing something very, very exciting. I don’t know that I would have said that I wanted to do it at that stage, but it was still in the back of my mind. I knew if I wanted that job, I would want to do it like those people had done it. Therefore, anything else you hear, you realize it’s not working. I think you’ve got to hear it. We need good examples everywhere. From what you’ve told me of these men [who you train in the Training National Trainers program], they hear it, they say, “I want to do this!” and then they want to tell other people how to do it.

TK: It is an amazing process God uses. But I think you’re right, there’s something in hearing the preached Word. The Word that comes alive, because it is alive. And the soul hungers for it.

DL: It satisfies mind and heart. For some reason, at the moment, we are satisfying the mind but we’re not satisfying the heart. That’s an exaggeration, but I feel that’s the imbalance of the moment.

TK: In some ways that connected to the third part of your definition that you spoke of earlier, the purpose a text was given. Do you think we perhaps feed the mind without getting to the pastoral shepherding intent of the text?

DL: As I walked up the pulpit on Tuesday, I would ask myself, what are you wanting to say? What, in a sentence, are you wanting to say? Often in at our conferences, I used to say to a man who had spoken incomprehensively for ten minutes. I would say, tell me in a sentence what you were saying. Then that puts them back on their heels and they can’t think what they were saying, in a way that was just learning from my camp days. We learned to be very frank with each other. That was quite fresh. I think that the young fellows when they came to our conferences they might be a little taken aback for the first night or morning. The place was full of friendship. They realized that nobody was getting at them, but that they couldn’t be allowed to go on just waffling, and that your congregation will allow you to do that—they just go to sleep or turn you off. I think our conferences were quite demanding in those early days. But they were tremendously enjoyable. I suppose a few people may not have liked them at all, but on the whole, people came back for more.

TK: A pastor friend of mine in Sydney made a comment one time that often you’ll hear in the prayer that follows the message the actual thing the preacher wanted to say. I thought that was insightful.

DL: Yes, that’s very good.

TK: Dick we shared with you a bit earlier about some of the ways God is building his church around the world through the Word of God in the ministry of Training National Trainers and through an excitement for expository preaching. The word gives life, that’s really what’s happening, God’s life is spreading. How does it stir your heart hearing stories of what God is doing in other places?

DL: Oh, it stirs me tremendously hearing what you had to tell me. You can’t do what you’re doing too much. We must equip other people. I think in the old denominations there is far too much clericalism still. The clergy is meant to do everything. We’re only recovering in the last generation from the one-man ministry. I think you Americans are far better at this, partly because you’re more generous and you have more built up staffs. Whereas we haven’t been able to afford that until comparatively recently, that’s of course, one thing that expository preaching does. It excites people and then they feel into their pocket. We never incidentally ask for money on the Tuesday service because I realized people thought the church was simply going for their pockets. I often think that over 30 years we must have lost millions of pounds by never asking anybody for a penny. But you don’t need to do that because when they find the Lord, they want to give. I think it’s exciting to hear.


In the final part of the interview, Dick speaks to our cultural moment.


One of the videos we showed Dick Lucas was the story of Herediki, an Indonesian pastor. He said this about how TNT changed his ministry:

“Before I learned the TNT method…when I would preach a sermon, I would just speak about any idea I found and would like to talk about. After learning the TNT methodology, I have become much more careful. I try to be an encouragement to the congregation so they can understand the true meaning of God’s Word. This has been helpful for my own family and the church members as well.”

Learn More: Partner with Us to Equip National Pastors

Dick Lucas on the History and Development of Proclamation Trust (Part 3 of 5)

What follows is Part Three of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below (starting at 32:05) or download the mp3.




TK: At some point along the way you began to think beyond the walls of the church. You saw the need for the word of God to be at the center of the life of the church. Can you tell us a little about the development of Proclamation Trust?

The Proclamation Trust Logo

DL: Yes. The trouble is that I tend to get too much credit. So many other people were involved. Jonathan Fletcher, I always say, is one of the founders of P.T. Jonathan was on our staff for three or four years. He went to Wimbledon as the pastor there. He has a terrific number of friends. He’s one of these people who knows so many other people and is a great encourager. He ran a conference for two nights at Fairmont. We had a conference center by then due to the generosity of one of our businessmen. Jonathan ran a conference for two or three nights for about twenty men who were in charge of churches and invited me to come to lead it. This is how P.T. started. God does things.

“We all discovered that we didn’t know how to handle the Bible.”

I think it’s very important to remember we didn’t start with a plan. We didn’t sit around and have a committee. This started just naturally. We all sat around. We were all friends. We all knew each other really. Stories about it now get greatly exaggerated. The story today is that the Bill would give is five-minute exposition and that I would then tear it to pieces. Then Jack would give his five minutes and then I would say, “Jack that’s not in the Bible.” It wasn’t quite like that. Basically, we all discovered it, wasn’t just me. We all discovered that we didn’t know how to handle the Bible. We’d all been through theological college. We’d all got degrees. For men, they were very good brains. People today who are very important church leadership positions. I think it was astonishing. Those of us that were there will never forget it. Again, I think it was of God. We all realized that we were preaching to each other, but we didn’t know how to do it. What we were saying from the Bible was not what the Bible was saying. I just happened to be the chairman. I suppose I had been giving some thought to this. I had been learning from people like Stott. We immediately said we must meet again next year. Every two years that group continues to meet to this day. Even dragging me down at my age occasionally to give a talk. They are all grey headed now and most of them retired. But they still meet because of the joy of being together and what it has meant to them in the course of their ministry.

It was the Lord who did that. I feel that people think I had some wonderful idea. Actually, it wasn’t that. The wonderful idea was realizing that we didn’t know how to it. And so, we had to teach ourselves. There was nobody to tell us.

At my theological college, I preached twice. We went out to villages in Cambridge. One village had a wonderful name of Six Mile Bottom. There were dear elderly people and we gave a talk. Then on Monday morning with the Vice Principal, we would discuss the talk for half an hour and then go to coffee. Well, what a good is that? It was just not taken seriously. (I want to be careful, there may have been some that were.)

Anyhow, there we were sitting around this conference center and we knew that we didn’t know how to do it. So, we met a year later and the thing grew. We realized we couldn’t just do this for ourselves we needed to tell other people. I had my 25th anniversary at St. Helen’s. I said to the elders of the church that I didn’t want a silver teapot or anything like that. I would like some money so that we could set up something for P.T. We knew we had to set up some conferences and that we would need a bit of cash to do that. Two very generous men gave us $25,000 each—which was a lot of money in those days. It was very generous. That was the capital on which we hired a secretary and got a room. In the end, we started to run these little conferences at our own conference center. Then we started the Cornhill Training Course by asking David Jackman to come. He was with us for 14 years and that’s how Cornhill training course started. It’s big now, but it was quite tiny then. It all really came through the generosity of two men who saw the need. One is in heaven and one is still alive, I’m glad to say, today.

[Watch: Interview with David Jackman on Expository Preaching, Gospel Ministry, and Scripture’s Authorial Intent]

TK: I resonate with your statements about not knowing how to preach. Probably 25 years ago, some colleagues and I experienced you coming over to College Church in Wheaton. We began to take part in those conferences as well. It provided something very significant.

DL: Yes, people’s eyes open to realize this is a living Word, that it makes sense, that you have got to sit under it, not over it. By in large people sit over it don’t they, or did in those days. It was a very natural thing. It was nobody’s genius; there was no genius in it. Of course, various people brought their gifts into it. Jonathan is a very fine expositor. Other people came who knew how to do it and teach others. So, those conferences still go on. My 25th anniversary must have been 1986—that must have been roughly when we started.

Part Four discusses expository preaching and its impact.

Dick Lucas: Beginnings in Ministry & Growth as a Preacher (Part 2 of 5)

What follows is Part Two of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below (starting at 13:30) or download the mp3.



TK: As you began in ministry, what was your view of ministry? What were you trying to do as you led?

DL: I must have been pompous because I don’t think I had any idea. I had a very dear rector. (That is the title of the senior pastor here.) He was over 70 and near retirement. He wasn’t a man you think to train you. He was an evangelist. He had been a great evangelist in his youth and his ministry was largely evangelistic. In the early 50s, churches were comparatively full in towns where I went.

I realized my job was to help people, and I realized they really didn’t know anything. I gathered them. I learned how to do a lot at that point, gathering all these young people. I had about three and a half years there. I soon realized that people need training. So we stopped all the nonsense and fooling around. Youth fellowships in the town where I went were always fooling around with girls and playing games and so on. So, I began a completely fresh one. We went straight to work on the Bible every Friday night. We had games on Saturday if they wanted it. We didn’t want to assume that they wanted no recreation. We had a big grammar school nearby and we had 60 or 70 young men and girls. What I learned from that is if you treat them seriously and give them proper food – well you know this from all the work your doing – a large number of those boys went into Christian ministry of various kinds. In fact, I’m getting so long in the tooth that the boys I was training then are retired now.

TK: Did you then make your way to Mt. St. Helen’s?

DL: No, then I went to a society to talk to young men about the call to ministry, which I did for two or three years. I don’t think that probably adds very much to my story. It was a worthwhile time. I think it did for me, selfishly, is that I traveled the country. That was very useful in getting to know people, getting to know the situation. I gained a great deal from that. It was a very useful time for me.

St. Helen's Bishopsgate Church

St. Helen’s Bishopsgate Church, where Dick Lucas served as Rector from 1961 to 1998.

Then in 1961 St. Helen’s came up. In those days nobody seemed to want to be in a city church. The churches were empty. The Bishop of London used them as a dumping place for those incorrigible tragedies he didn’t know what else to do with. So, we were a rum bunch. A senior businessman saw the opportunity and he said to me (he’s the kind of man to tell you what to do), “Dick you’ve got to become the rector there.” I smiled and put in my application. I can remember it now, putting it in the letterbox, thinking that’s the end of the matter. Actually, only four people applied. I was appointed. Partly, I think because I was young and partly because the bishop wanted his candidate and the trustees (who had to appoint) were determined not to have the man that the bishop wanted. So, a good bit of human nature came into my appointment. They were glad to have a younger man. I inherited nothing but a small crowd.

TK: So, it was a rather small beginning.

DL: That’s one way of putting it, There was really nothing there at all.

TK: Over the years God gave you a ministry of the Word.

DL: […] Gradually. We didn’t start with a big Sunday morning. We didn’t think that was way ahead because parking was so difficult. It really came with a Tuesday service, because a group of businessmen who were praying and reading the Bible wanted a gospel service. I would never have been able to succeed without these men. They read the Bible once a week… They just said to me, “Will you please start a lunch hour service?” So, we did. They were the people responsible for it’s success. They worked and prayed like crazy. When people came through the door, into that funny old building, in one corner there would be Bill Somebody from the rubber market, another somebody from the insurance market. All these old markets of the old city are open markets, or at least they were then. So a youngster coming to do insurance would know the big names. If you were in the rubber market or the sugar market, you would know them. They came in saw Mr. So-and-So in the corner, one of the stewards, and they thought, “If he comes there must be something here worthwhile.”

Those early days were extraordinary. This was not actually our doing at all. Those early days the men came in like a river. They just poured in at five minutes to one o’clock in a great stream. I don’t think any human explanation can be given for that except that there were many people praying and it was God’s time. William, my brilliant successor, has built on that many other things that we didn’t do in those days. So, the work is much bigger now than it was then.

TK: St. Helen’s is right in the middle of the business district. What did you see happening in those Tuesday meetings that was so significant for the ministry of the church?

DL: It was a male world in those days. Strange isn’t it how many things have changed. There are many able women in the city today. But in those days it was a male world in grey suits, umbrellas and, believe it or not, the old bowler hat—which is now completely extinct. Although, I did see one the other day and I nearly ran over to the man and said: “May I please have your hat because they’d like it at the museum.” So, it was an extraordinary sight.

You see a youngster coming up to the city, age 18 or 19, he’s unlikely to be in a church again except for his marriage and the baptism of his children. So, actually, it’s the last chance for many young men, from my point of view. They won’t go to their local church, but in those days they came out in their lunch hour. Today, they build new buildings. The organizers try to keep everybody in the building so no time is wasted. So a young man coming alone sees this astonishing queue of men coming into a church in the middle of the day and says, “What on earth is going on?” I suppose it was a very unusual sight. Many must have came in just out of curiosity.

An Indian Christian named V.J. worked his way up and was a marine engineer who had done very well. He saw all these people coming in, so he came in (he’s was a Hindu), and found himself in the middle of a row and he couldn’t get out. So he had to stay. The Lord wonderfully spoke to him. He has been a blessing to thousands of people.

TK: To those who don’t know, what would happen on a Tuesday?

DL: It was only half an hour. I think I had at least the sense to be short. The thing lasted exactly half an hour, just 12:55 to 1:25. So, I would get into the pulpit at 1 pm, a hymn would be announced, after the hymn I would say a prayer, I would then read and immediately preach and finish exactly on 25 past. So, I learned to preach for 21 minutes. And that was appreciated. People knew how long they were kept. I just think it was the numbers at the time. People hadn’t heard this. They hadn’t heard the good news.

We started refreshments. I had learned that if you have refreshments first, people slip away when they’ve had the refreshment and don’t stay for the talk. (A lot of Christian evangelism happened that way in those days.) So, we had the talk first and then we had excellent refreshments afterward. You know, God moves in strange ways, one of the exclusive Brethren churches had broken up and some of their people had come to us including a wonderful lady who, to make ends meet, had gone into catering. She did our Tuesday lunch every Tuesday for 30 years I think. It was a tremendous thing for her as for us. Those sort of people found a ministry.

TK: In the talk itself, what was your goal or objective?

DL: I would take a theme for the month. People move in the city and we forget how mobile people are. It was no good going through Jeremiah for forty Sundays or forty Tuesdays. You do need a bit of common sense. So, I would do four or five Tuesdays on one passage. I think we have too much in our sermons today. I haven’t heard myself. I’ve never listened to those old talks. But I don’t think there’s too much material in them.

The aim was to make a certain point and to make it well. I might take one chapter, John 1 or Romans 5. That would be quite tough going to take Romans 4 & 5 in four Tuesdays. I tried to keep it concise. It was really hearing the whole counsel of God. Hearing what John 3:16 really means in terms of the New Testament. That was new to a lot of these men.

TK: Many that were coming to the luncheon, they weren’t believers.

DL: Well, there were a lot of Christians that came of course, but if you got four hundred plus every Tuesday there were plenty of non-Christians there. The Christians brought their friends. So, Christians were there, lots of non-Christians were there and in between. All sorts. William is a very good speaker on Tuesdays today, but he enlarged the concept. He has a Thursday on which he has questions back, which rather like the hall of Tyrannus, of Paul.

TK: This is one thing that shaped the church in a significant way?

DL: Yes, this is how we started. A strange way to start isn’t it? But I didn’t have parochial obligations; that was a great blessing. I was single. I don’t know how I would have coped with a parish, enormous amount of visiting to do and so on. That wouldn’t have been my strength. I’d done a certain amount of that as an assistant.

We then started a student service, I suppose it was about five or six years after I came, because there was a great service at All Souls. John Stott was at the height of his powers in the 50’s. 900 people at All Souls. We started in the late 60’s. There’s a long way between the west end and the east end. Although of course, it’s very business orientated, the big teaching hospitals all around the east end of London are enormous campuses today. Somebody with wisdom might have moved them out of central London, or some of them. But they couldn’t have moved really, and today they’re enormous. We built up our Sunday night on medical students, nurses, and others. It’s astonishing how students find somewhere to live even in built-up areas. We had a good crowd coming on a Sunday night very quickly.

TK: The main thing you were doing was simply opening the Word of God.

DL: Yes, absolutely. Because there were not parochial activities, none of the things you would run at an ordinary church, we didn’t have to bother with them. We didn’t even have a proper Sunday School until Robert Howes (happy memory!) came, somewhere in the 70’s or early 80’s. He had three boys and he was disgusted at the smallness of our Sunday School. So, Robert and other people, one particular lady who was an assistant tutor at the hospital and her husband [worked on Sunday School]. We now have probably one of the best Sunday Schools within any reach of St. Helen’s. It’s a valuable thing to people on the fringes who bring their children in. It became a very notable thing for people and so they made the effort to find places to park, which is still difficult. So that was a great thing. People bring in different gifts don’t they. I could never have done that. I never went to the Sunday School except for the nativity play, which I used to enjoy very much.

TK: The word of God was instrumental.

DL: That was the only attraction. I think people found it astonishing their friends wanted to go for that, until they found out that it is wonderfully rich and attractive.

We did the same with the students, yes. They’ve got plenty of activities. You don’t need to entertain the students. The world entertains them and they entertain themselves far better than we can entertain them. We had gifted young men and girls who knew how to get alongside them in a way I didn’t. Richard Cunningham, do you know, doing sort of wonderful work today. Well, I remember Richard, I think he was doing physical training at Gordon Smith College. People who are training, for what they call exercise art, they aren’t notably scholars. Richard of course, has a very fine mind. Richard, I always remember him coming on Sunday night and beginning to bring the young men from the college who were not there on scholarship grounds and probably found listening boring. It was priceless; Richard would bring a notebook and start take notes on my sermon. So the next week you would see the boy who came with him bring his own notebook and then the next boy would bring a notebook. These things catch don’t they? They suddenly realized this is important stuff and not only listened to it but took notes to think about. They used to make me smile when I looked down from the pulpit to see these guys that had no idea that you came to church to think. It’s a happy memory.

In Part Three, Dick shares about the history and development of Proclamation Trust.

Dick Lucas’ early years and what C.S. Lewis was like as a professor (Part 1 of 5)

What follows is Part One of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below or download the mp3.



Todd Kelly: I’m here with Dick Lucas who was the Rector for many years at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London. He also served as the Director of Proclamation Trust. Dick, tell us a little about your story and about your early years.

Dick Lucas: I first heard the gospel at holiday camp. I think that’s true of many people in my generation and still true. We were a church-going family. My father was a man of enormous integrity and we went down the hill to the church every Sunday. Looking back, I realize there was nothing on offer there at all.

A local fellow who was a medical student in the town asked me to these camps, and like many others, I heard the gospel for the first time. It was wartime actually and the government insisted that the school kids did something for the war effort. So, these Christians running the camps wisely put on farming and such. The place was packed out as people had to go somewhere on the holidays. I can’t remember what we did. I think we picked up turnips; it can’t have helped the war very much. But all day we went on to the farm. I remember cutting down a sapling on the head of the owner of the estate. I was lucky not to be sent home I think. But it was all great fun and I got to hear the gospel and I responded to it. I can’t say that I did very well after that. I went to school and, of course, backslid, and then I went into the Navy at the end of the war. It was in the Navy, where I came back and had to make my own route Christian-wise.

TK: What were some of the influences that came into your life and grew you as a Christian?

A young John Stott

DL: I think the talks at that particular camp were probably the finest talks to young people that I have ever heard then or since. The young John Stott was a student at the time, and I won’t give you the names of others, but the talks were of an outstanding quality. I don’t think I realized that at the time. Then afterward in my Naval service, I didn’t hear any talks.

When I came out of the Navy I knew where I stood. I did odd jobs and earned some money and then went on to university. I was lucky enough to get a place at Cambridge. I don’t think I could now; the standards are so incredibly high. The Cambridge Christian Union was then an astonishing society. The biggest in University, 400 I think was the number. There were a lot of very material people in the Christian Union. Despite that, the Christian Union was very effective and I grew. I think there was only one member of the senior faculty at the University that stood with the Christian Union. He was a lovely man, slightly eccentric, the under-librarian at the university library. Ever since then, at Cambridge the Christian Union doesn’t get support from the senior faculty. But it’s been the most effective society at the university for many years.

TK: You had some interesting professors while you were at university. One in particular that stood out, C. S. Lewis?

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

DL: That was at Oxford. When I had to leave school. When you were 18 you got called up and you had to leave school immediately. This is toward the end of the war that I was called up. And it just happened that I had C. S. Lewis as my tutor for six months, which was an extraordinary privilege. I tremble as I look back. Of course, I was completely ignorant of English literature and he must have regarded this as sort of the war work, I think. I really am rather ashamed when I think of what he had to put up with. So, there I was in my Naval uniform going in to read my essay to this man and had no idea what a great man he was. And of course, even the world didn’t then know what a great man he was in 1943.

TK: Was there a way in which his tutelage shaped you?

DL: I don’t mean this in a wrong way; he wasn’t friendly. He once said to a student, “I’m not your schoolmaster.” He regarded a student as being an adult and therefore looking after one’s self. So, he wasn’t in that way a warm cuddly person. I happened to be on the same staircase so I did notice the way he worked fairly all day. I used to look through the door and see he would write without correcting anything — he had an extraordinary mind. He had one of the great minds of his generation. He wasn’t famous then. He was giving talks to the Air Force people. Many of the flatlands out there (near Cambridge) were made into Abbeys; the Americans were there in very large numbers. The bombers were there. As his war work, he was asked to give talks and that’s how he became known. The BBC heard about these talks and invited him to broadcast them. It really all came out of the fact that he had to give talks to the airmen. I think he himself learned then how to put things in a simpler way. These talks that ultimately became Mere Christianity. The BBC was astounded by the response to these talks. As you know, Mere Christianity has never been out of print since.

He then became very unpopular with the senior faculty at Magdalen College. Magdalen was a godless college and a very famous college, very atheistical. People like Gilbert Ryle the philosopher. So [Lewis] got a rough ride there. He never made professor at Oxford. So, without doubt Lord David Cecil once said he was the great man at Oxford yet he never actually got professorship. Which I think tells it’s own story. They didn’t like the fact that he wrote popular Christian stuff, but his lectures were crowded. They were extraordinary. I went to some of them. He would come into the lecture room talking and he would go on talking brilliantly from the lectern and then walk out talking. Now whether this was a ploy so people didn’t catch him at the end and make conversation, I don’t know. He wasn’t in that sense chummy. I don’t think you would say that. He had his own circle of friends, of course, which everybody knows about by the stories of Inklings and how they used to meet at the pub once a week. Then he was rescued by Cambridge asking him to be the professor there of languages and so on, where he had a very successful eight or nine years, I think it was. Smoked like a chimney. Died really very young in today’s terms at 63—smoking can’t have helped him. A remarkable man, unique really. Wish we had a man today who could write like that, we badly need it.

TK: Dick, what were some of the influences that led you to the ministry?

DL: I wanted to be a missionary before I was nine. I was really a wicked little boy and I remember telling a friend at prep school that I was going to be a missionary to Japan. Thank God He altered my plan! Poor Japan, it they’d had me as a missionary!

I think going to these camps and seeing these men. The thing that impressed me the most is the way these young men had given up their time to look after us brats. I’d never met that before, I’d never met that Christian kind of attitude of solace. I don’t think we realize what an impression that makes to people who have never seen it before. Well, I wouldn’t have been able to express that at the time, but I was enormously impressed by it. I wanted to be like them.

So, I think I had ideas of going into ordained ministry very early on. I told my father and he was entirely supportive. I think the rest of my family thought it was rather odd, but I had no opposition at all. So, I went on to university and to theological college afterward.

TK: As you transitioned from the training to ministry itself, describe some of those early days. What were you setting out to do?

DL: I think it would be fair to say (I don’t mean this unkindly), that I learned very little at my theology college. It was liberal evangelical and they had no idea how to train us. They still don’t in many ways, some of those colleges.

I learned really as a leader of course to these camps. I was there for four years. That was an enormous privilege because we were properly trained. If you were given a talk for an evening, if you couldn’t keep boys awake in the evening, then you wouldn’t be given another talk to give. In the morning you would be torn to pieces (in a friendly way). I never had training like that at the Church of England. The Church of England had no idea really how to train its leaders. I’m not sure any denomination does in this country. But these interdenominational movements, of course, do train. You ought to know that in America because what is extraordinary about your lay movements is that many people don’t realize they are lay movements (Campus Crusade, Navigators, and the like) that is a reaction to clericalism. The fact is that they have trained their men better than many of the churches trained their men. We’ve learned a lot from them. And I learned all I knew. When I went to be an assistant in 1951, all I had really learned was from giving endless talks at camp and elsewhere. I had already begun to speak in lots of places. You learn by doing it, don’t you?

TK: Was there someone there that was interacting with you about those talks?

DL: The leader of the camp. You have to say he was a remarkable man. He wasn’t a man you would call a superman in any way. He had great spiritual experience and power—he was a great man of prayer. The leaders he had were all chosen leaders. It was from those camps that John Stott came. And he chose men and trained them. I don’t know where we would be without that kind of training. Our theological colleges are necessary because we need men who know theology, but it’s very hard to learn to ride a bicycle in a room. You don’t learn to be a preacher at a theological college. That’s why the Proclamation Trust started. I think it must have been. You try and look back and say, “Why on earth did we begin?” I think we realized that men coming out of theological college might not be able to preach even though they were very good theologically. It’s just practical.

Part Two traces Dick’s early ministry and preaching at the businessmen’s lunch.

Measuring Impact – Video of Webinar with Craig Parro

How should non-profits and missions organizations measure impact?

The challenging (and sometimes ambiguous) nature of measuring impact may deter some from even trying, but LRI President Craig Parro says measuring impact is crucial.

In the webinar Craig Parro hosted with the Barnabas Group in Chicago, IL, Craig unpacks the why and the how of measuring impact. Since every organization is so different, Craig bases much of his talk on how Leadership Resources measures impact training pastors in biblical exposition in the Training National Trainers program.

Download PDF of slides

“Why is it that everyone loves learning, but nobody loves being evaluated?” – Craig Parro

Preaching the Bible’s Authorial Intent

David Jackman Expository Preaching Gospel Ministry Authorial Intent in Scripture

We recently had a conversation with David Jackman of Proclamation Trust and the Cornhill Training Course on expository preaching, gospel ministry, the author’s intent in the Bible, and preaching the genres of the Bible (watch the full interview).

The video and transcript below share a highlight from the interview on preaching the Bible’s authorial intent.


Todd Kelly: In some conversations about preaching, the phrase or idea of authorial intent is used to describe the task. But, sometimes it just leaves us with a cold theme. Can you explain that concept of authorial intent, and help us to understand how it should shape the sermon, and where it should lead us?

David Jackman: Yes, if God has inspired the Word (as we believe He has), then the human writer, under God, has an intention in writing the Word. Paul didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Oh, I haven’t got in touch with the Colossians lately, I’ll just drop them a line.” He has a purpose, an authorial intention in writing the Epistle. So our job is to discover what that intention is.

Now that comes from careful study of the text, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and by immersing ourselves in the actual content of the Word.

But you could teach that in a fairly theoretical, academic sort of way which can leave people cold. They feel there’s nothing there for me and my heart and my life this week. And I think it’s possible to have a sort of preaching that is more like lecturing. It may be accurate, may be faithful, but it doesn’t communicate, doesn’t get it across, doesn’t communicate to the heart.

So if we go from the author’s intention and ask ourselves, “What is God’s pastoral intention in inspiring the author to write this book?” Then we’re making a journey from the mind to the heart—from understanding the text to realizing why the text is there and what the text has to say to us and what its implications are for our lives.

So through the mind to the heart is the journey from authorial intent to pastoral intent. And then if we respond with a heart that is receptive to God’s Word, it will work out in our lives. Preaching is always with a view to change of life. It’s never simply writing information down in your notebook about God. It’s always God is intervening in our lives changing our lives as we understand this truth and apply this truth and relate it to our circumstances. And the other thing the preacher has to do is help the congregation to do that, by giving examples and illustrations and so on. So could you just take us one step further on this journey, in terms of application, because many many preachers this side of the Atlantic feel a pressure to apply the Word of God.

Todd Kelly: Can you tell us the relationship of application to the shepherding intent of the scriptures?

David Jackman: Yes. I rejoice that they find some pressure on that. I think it’s better to have a pressure to apply than to think I don’t need to.

Sometimes people just lay out the fruits of their exegetical study and that’s it. And I don’t think that nurtures the flock as much as they might. So we want to take it a stage further, don’t we. But the application must come from the text. So we’ve got to be on the main line of the text. It’s not a matter of how can I apply this, “Let me bring in an application from outside and bolt it onto the Bible text.”

I sometimes say to my students in London that I know you’ve all got bolt-on applications that you will make if you can’t think of anything else to say, like we ought to read the Bible more, or we ought to pray more, we ought to evangelize more. And all those things are true, but is that why this text is here? What is this text saying in terms of its application to our lives?

That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.

I do think we have to work at that and I think it works through in practical terms so that we begin to carry through what we’ve learned prayerfully and in dependence on God’s grace into our lives, and working for that sort of change that is shaping us into the likeness of Christ. That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.


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Three Surprising Ways Bible Reading with My Kids Has Changed Me

The following article is by Jon Nielson, author of Bible Reading with Your Kids: A Simple Guide for Every Father.


Bible Reading with Your Kids - Jon Nielson - Book CoverI’m sure I’m not the only one who finds regular time with my family in the Bible a challenge. There are plenty of distractions and reasons why reading the Bible with my three young kids is hard. But I’m convinced that the best thing I can do for my children is expose them to the Word of God (and ask the Holy Spirit to change their lives). In fact, I was so convinced that I wrote a book on the subject, called Bible Reading With Your Kids.

And as I’ve persevered and tried to make Bible reading with my children a regular habit, I’ve been surprised that God has been using this to change me. While I was convinced it would be beneficial for my children, I never imagined how God would also shape me through this. Here are three ways God is changing me.

I am growing in my understanding of the Bible.

Any good teacher, in any subject, will tell you that one good test of true comprehension of a complex concept is whether or not you can explain it with clarity to a young child. While it’s challenging to read the Bible and explain it simply to young children, it has forced me to work hard at comprehending biblical stories, ideas and teachings with pinpoint clarity. By God’s grace, this has forced me to work even harder in my own understanding of God’s word, which has been good for my heart and mind.

I am developing as a teacher of God’s word.

Some of us might never be public preachers of the Bible, but all of us are to be involved in word ministry in the context of the body of Christ, the local church (Colossians 3:16). As I’ve committed to reading the Bible with my children, and explaining it to them clearly along the way, I’ve found this has grown my confidence and ability to do word ministry with adults too. As I engage in ‘God talk’ with my kids and articulate gospel truths to them, this has helped me to have ‘God talk’ with other adults more naturally. When it comes to personal evangelism, I am more confident and at ease.

I am constantly being encouraged by my children in ways I never imagined.

I have found that since reading the Bible regularly with my children, I am finding deep delight in discipling them. I am loving the sweet conversations with them about the the things of God, as they form questions and wrestle through theological thoughts. I love watching them discover new and beautiful things about God, his grace, and his glorious redemption of sinners. There is a new dimension of friendship opening up, a spiritual friendship between my kids and I, and I pray this will continue to grow and flourish as they get older.

Let me encourage you, if you’re someone who also struggles with reading the Bible regularly with your children, to go for it! Now is the time to begin. Recalibrate your expectations and allow yourself grace. There will be some tough times; young kids can have trouble focusing, and we’ve certainly had our nights when Bible reading times have been rough! But keep persevering. It’s worth it. Expose your kids to God’s word daily, and commit them to him in prayer, trusting him to open their hearts to his gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and you might be surprised at how God uses this to change you too.

If you’re finding Bible reading with your kids a challenge, or are even unsure how to start, here are eight tips from my book Bible Reading With Your Kids for Matthias Media, that will help.

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Should We Focus on a Movement—Or Transformation?

One major goal of Leadership Resources’ training in biblical exposition is to launch indigenous-led movements of God’s Word in the countries where we work. By God’s grace, we have seen movements spring up in many countries where we work. But should a movement be the main focus of our work, or is there a more fundamental focus we should start with?

Doug Dunton recently asked an Ethiopian Mentor Trainer named Alex if he focused on a movement. We loved his answer so much we shared it below.


My focus is the true transformation in individuals. My desire is to see people experience the riches of God’s Word. The Spirit that is released as they are faithful when they dig into God’s Word. That is my desire–to see pastors, teachers who are being faithful to the Word of God. For nurturing their lives, and at the same time, building up the church. That’s the conviction.

This training changed my perspective of seeing God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and passing it on to others. This precious Word. The change is very personal. The training is very personal. If it changed me, if it really convicted me that I’m loosely handling God’s Word for my life and for my ministry, there are also other people who are easily distracted by a lot of eloquent speakers. They can copy many different sources, but that doesn’t give life. That is the major thing I’ve experienced in my life. This training leads me to focus on the Bible text.

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    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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