This interview was recorded live from the exhibit floor of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 2018, in Dallas, Texas. Clint Pressley is Senior Pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Michael Duduit: Hi, welcome to a Preaching Magazine mini-video interview. I’m visiting today with Clint Pressley who is Pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clint, thanks so much for visiting with us.
Clint Pressley: Very glad to do it. Thank you, Dr. Duduit.
Michael Duduit: Well listen, you are pastoring and you probably have multiple services don’t you?
Clint Pressley: That’s right. I have three services right now
Michael Duduit: Okay, one thing that is always interesting to me is as I have preached in different churches and they have multiple services. Some churches, those services have different personalities. Do you find that to be the case?
Clint Pressley: Absolutely, the case. We have 8 am service at the main campus, and 11:00 at our main campus, 10:15 at our north campus and all three are completely distinct.
Michael Duduit: That always strikes me how interesting that is in the same congregation. Well, tell me a little about your process of getting ready from Sunday to Sunday. The vicious reality for pastors is that there is always another Sunday. So as you finish up on Sunday and are getting ready, what’s your process in getting ready for preaching for the next week?
Clint Pressley: Okay, would you like me to talk about how I plan it out and work through it? Typically, in the late Summer, early Fall, I’ll plan for the next year. So get away and think through what I’m going to preach. So two years ago I decided to go through Genesis and I took the first 12 chapters of Genesis and divided it up to fifty-two units, one for each Sunday and wrote it out on the calendar so that I have every Sunday assigned a text for the following year. And then the year starts, I come in on a Monday morning, I know what the text is. It’s already chosen. It’s there waiting on me and then typically I will look at it a little bit on Monday, but don’t really pick it up in earnest until Tuesday. Tuesday is when I start studying, using all the tools that are available; start translating the text, and I’ll write it out; start finding the divisions, I will do all of that work on Tuesday. And then do it again on Thursday because Wednesdays are typically reserved for Wednesdays. Thursdays, I do all that so that I have the outline done by the end of the day on Thursday including all the commentary work. And then I’ll put it down and won’t pick it up again until Saturday about 4:00 pm. By 4:00 pm on Saturdays, I go into my office at home and I’ll write out the manuscripts Saturday afternoon evening. It takes about three hours for each sermon. Eat supper and go to bed about 8:00 pm. I get up about 4:00 am on Sunday mornings and go over it a couple of hours, from 4:00 – 6:00 am, in the shower and head to church about 6:45 am.
Michael Duduit: Now do you actually preach through it aloud more than one time?
Clint Pressley: No, I will go through it, eternalizing the message, but it is a manuscript. For some time, I had to preach with the understanding that I had five services every Sunday. I was doing five services every Sunday. To constraint time, it forced me to use a manuscript.
Michael Duduit: Do you carry the manuscript into the pulpit with you?
Clint Pressley: Oh, yeah. I do.
Michael Duduit: That’s actually a skill that I encourage students to do. There is just a precision that comes from actually writing things out.
Clint Pressley: Also for me, because I don’t use a computer, I handwrite everything, that actually helps me to internalize the message. I’m looking at it, I’m writing it down, I’m going through it as I write it down by hand. It’s been helpful.
Michael Duduit: Now, you probably have multiple people that whether you worship leaders wondering what you are doing, or people working with media, how do you go about that process of interacting and engaging with others who are involved with that morning worship.
Clint Pressley: Typically, I’ll send the entire year’s worth of text, what they are, to the people that want it, which is the two worship leaders in two different places. When it comes to media, for those that put the verses on the screen, or that sort of thing, I’ll send them an outline on Sunday morning early so that they can put it up, but beyond that, I do not use it very much.
Michael Duduit: What do you most enjoy about preaching these days?
Clint Pressley: I’m enjoying seeing the people…I’ve been at my current church nine years, almost nine years…seeing them develop and start to enjoy book-by-book preaching. It took some doing. It’s an acquired taste, but once you get it, it’s hard to go back to anything else. So seeing more and more of our people carrying their bibles, learning how to read the Bible, and knowing that our people are interacting with the Bible. One of the primary desires that I have for my people at Hickory Grove is that they learn to love the Bible.
Michael Duduit: What do you find is the biggest challenges you are facing in preaching today?
Clint Pressley: One of the challenges is just time. A church…like any pastor that pastors a church more than 50 people has issues with time…so that’s one of my challenges. Finding the time to spend with the text and developing a sermon that is going to be helpful, that is well done…so time is an issue. And then, if you are going to do exposition, I think that is what you should do…being able to tie that to the events of life that are going on right now. Sometimes, I’m not very good with that with illustrating and applying. I struggle with those sometimes.
Michael Duduit: I find that often pastors tell me the area they struggle with the most is that application.
Clint Pressley: Yes, that’s probably where I struggle the most.
Michael Duduit: How do you try to work at that? Are there are some things that you do that help you?
Clint Pressley: Yeah, sometimes I’ll try to personalize it. Like, in a first-person for me, talk about how this has impacted me, what does it mean for my own life, but a church like Hickory Grove as broad as it is…people of all ages, races, all backgrounds…if I’m too precise in application then I miss the majority of my people. What I try to do is make it as broad as possible and trust the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word applied to their hearts.
Michael Duduit: Clint, thanks so much for visiting with us today.
Clint Pressley: Thank you, Dr. Duduit. Enjoyed being here.