Ryle on Preaching Simply


J. C. Ryle
J. C. Ryle

I just read a little booklet by J. C. Ryle. Titled Simplicity in Preaching: A Few Short Hints on a Great Subject, the book contains a lecture Ryle delivered in 1882 and spans 48 tiny pages (each page includes only a couple paragraphs). I suspect that the entire thing would work today as a lengthy blog post.

Much of what Ryle says is helpful, though some of it reflects the prevailing ideas of his times and is less useful now (e.g., his ambivalence towards the use of “Saxon words” in English). Though I recommend you read the whole thing, here are five directives Ryle gives to those who would attain simplicity in preaching:

  1. Have a clear knowledge of what you are going to preach.
  2. Use simple words.
  3. Seek to acquire a simple style of composition, with short sentences and as few colons and semi-colons as possible.
  4. Aim at directness.
  5. Make abundant use of illustration and anecdote.

HT: Steve Weaver
Image credit: By Kowalker [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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