Dr. Allen, first of all, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to the release of your latest book, Letters to my Students, as I’m sure many of our readers have been as well. I’d love to hear about the inspiration behind the book—why this book and why now?
In my earliest months of exploring my own call to ministry, Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students proved invaluable. Page by page, Lectures to My Students answered questions I was asking – and questions I should have been asking.
Now I find myself some twenty years removed from those deliberations, and fielding so many of the same questions that I once was asking. Thus, this book is my humble attempt to build upon Spurgeon's great legacy, and answer questions for a new generation of pastors, ministers, and missionaries.
For any of our readers familiar with the legacy of Charles Spurgeon, the title will ring familiar to them. Talk to us about the title and Spurgeon’s influence on the volume.
As I mentioned, Spurgeon proved invaluable to me at a pivotal season of my life and ministry. Thankfully, church history is full of heroes for us to emulate, but in a very real sense, Spurgeon stands in a league of his own. His pulpit and his pen both were indefatigable, and the effects of his ministry rippled around the globe and into our present age.
Stylistically and thematically, Lectures to My Students very much impacted Letters to My Students. Like Spurgeon, I'm dealing with the practicalities of preaching, and seeking to engage these topics in ways that are accessible and helpful to ministers and ministers-in-training.
This is the first volume in the series, might we be lucky enough for you to foreshadow future volumes or is that information under wraps?
Volume two is lining up to be on pastoral ministry and volume three on pastoral leadership. Across America, congregations are starving for men of God who are equipped to shepherd the flock of God. What is more, while pastoral ministry is much more than leadership, it certainly involves leadership essentials. I hope to advance both these topics in ways, like volume one on preaching, that are biblically faithful and practically helpful.
It is not hard to find individuals bemoaning the state of the Church these days. Yet, we love hearing stories and perspectives that run against the pessimistic take on the Church; what most encourages you about the state of preaching today?
You're right, many people are pessimistic about the state of the church today. I suppose I'm naturally Churchillian in that I'm a natural optimist, but I'm also aware it doesn't do much good to be anything else. Yet as it relates to the church, my optimism is reinforced by Matthew 16 and some 2,000 years of church history.
In our current generation, there is a rising new generation of pastors committed to preaching the word and to the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. Indeed, these doctrines are the primary shaper of their pulpit ministry.
Most pointedly, Midwestern Seminary encourages me greatly because I see so many young men passionate about these very things, and they are giving their lives to these ends.
This book is on the topic of preaching. Any of our readers familiar with your work know you’ve done a substantial amount of teaching, writing, thinking on this topic and even host a great podcast on preaching. What preachers have had the biggest impact on you as a preacher?
This is another great question. Given the accessibility of pulpit ministries in the year 2019, we have an embarrassment of riches before us. So much has changed even in the past twenty years. When I was beginning to cut my teeth in ministry in the late 90s, I was primarily listening to audio cassettes. That quickly moved from CDs to DVDs to online listening and now, of course, to podcasts. Candidly, I'm pretty eclectic and I enjoy listening to many different preachers. Over the years, a few have, indeed, been quite helpful. Amongst these would be, Steve Lawson, Adrian Rogers, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Alistair Begg, Don Carson, H.B. Charles, and many more.
Some of the figures you’ve named as influences have proven to have a long tenure as a faithful Bible preachers. We hope many young preachers reading this article aim to have that kind of faithful-over-the-decades kind of ministry. What would you say is one of the most important qualities a young preacher can cultivate to aid in longevity in the pulpit?
I think the best way to cultivate a long tenure in pulpit ministry is to preach through books of the Bible. I believe expository preaching cultivates lengthy tenures for a number of reasons, but consider just two. First of all, if you're committed to preaching through books of the Bible, you never run out of content to preach. Many pastors hop church to church every few years simply because they've run out of stuff in their repertoire. On the contrary, men of biblical exposition can go from one book of the Bible to the next for their whole lifetimes and never come close to running out of material to preach on.
Additionally, biblical exposition anchors one in the local church because week to week and year to year, ministry is preset. As one who pastored for many years, my week began already knowing the passage I would preach on Sunday, and then I would spend my week trying to understand and apply that text to myself, and ultimately, to my hearers. Such series kept me focused on the upcoming Lord's Day, thus I was never inclined to spend time updating my resume or shopping for a new church to pastor. My priorities were preestablished.
Thanks again for your time, Dr. Allen. Anything else you’d like to say about the upcoming book in particular or homiletics in general?
Thanks for giving me the final word, Ronni. I would simply say that I am quite encouraged about Letters to My Students. I'm already receiving tremendous feedback from many, and I trust this book will be of help to ministers everywhere, both in the season ahead, and for decades to come.
Purchase Jason K. Allen's new book Letters to My Students, Vol 1: On Preaching here.