On Preachers and Preaching: Are Preachers Born or Made?

My homiletics students often wonder whether preaching can be taught. Are preachers born or are they made? At last, this YouTube video provides a definitive answer to this question.

What more can I say?


Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

7 thoughts on “On Preachers and Preaching: Are Preachers Born or Made?”

  1. Wow, that’s funny. I wonder what kind of sermons that baby hears every week… But that’s assuming the baby is imitating and therefore taught. Perhaps preachers really are born!

    1. What made me laugh was the familiarity of it. The vocal style, gestures and even the “Holy Ghost” strut of the baby are all features the kind of preaching I heard in my early Christian experience. It’s funny but it is also amazing in what it reveals about the way we learn language. We learn the vocal cues (pitch, tone, volume) before we learn the content of what is said.

  2. Definitely made.

    And Dr. Koessler, you have been part of the production-process with this preacher.

    I had just been re-telling a story on you a few weeks ago, and now I found your blog (via Joe Thorn).

    My story:

    I had you for evangelistic preaching in the early 90’s.

    You gave me incredibly low marks for my first message–which I thought was a terrific sermon (holding my nose now at the thought).

    I was devastated (I was used to being coddled and praised for my efforts, however half-baked), and sought out a meeting with you.

    You very patiently explained what was wrong with my message (it would have taken less time if you’d explained what was good about it), including my use of cliches, my ignorance of the context, and my using the text instead of explaining it.

    And then you helped me work on my 2nd and last message for the class on Thomas in John 20 (which went much better).

    I took what you taught me, especially about the point of the text being the point of the sermon (no matter what) with me into seminary and beyond, and now I preach every week.

    The reason I was thinking about this story was that I just preached on Thomas in John 20 again for Resurrection Sunday this month:


    And the operative illustration (Missouri Faith) was the one you helped me to develop 15 years ago.

    Thanks for being a part of what has made me a preacher.

    -Matt Mitchell

    1. Matt:

      What an encouragement to read your comment! We so rarely hear from the finished product (as if any of us are every finished). I always felt that Evangelistic Messages class was one of the most important that I taught. Thanks for sharing your story!


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