Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Interview with Jerry Wragg

This is part one of a two part interview with "Expository Thoughts" contributor Jerry Wragg. Jerry is the pastor-teacher of Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida.

1. Have you always been a preacher? What did you do before ministry?

After four years with the Air Force, I worked for a defense contractor as a counter-intelligence representative for secret military weapons programs.

2. What about preaching challenges you the most?

The time-pressures and leadership challenges of ministry make it very difficult to read and absorb all the relevant material on a given passage or topic so as to handle it thoroughly.

3. What books outside of Scripture have most shaped your understanding of preaching?

Toward An Exegetical Theology (Kaiser)
Preaching and Preachers (Lloyd-Jones)
The Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (Broadus)
The Preacher and Preaching (Logan [especially Boice’s chapter])
Lectures To My Students (Spurgeon)

4. What is the biggest obstacle for today’s pastor who wants to devote himself to expository preaching?

Utter confusion in the world of hermeneutics and exegesis! True that today’s pragmatic methodologies publish daily assaults on Bible exposition, but the real beast behind that false prophet is a wholesale war on objectivity and authority in hermeneutical studies. My advice: Read everything you can on today’s hermeneutical challenges, work hard on biblical languages, and build deep convictions about the essentials of the faith.

5. What role did/does formal education play in your growth as a preacher?

Though formal studies at an institution may not be possible for everyone, it should be the pursuit of every Bible expositor. For me, some course work could have been eliminated, but the disciplines needed for long hours of study were forged in the fires of school work and research. Furthermore, certain teachers marked my life as a pastor-preacher, shaping and molding my character around the qualities that build faithfulness, endurance, and integrity. Finally, it would be very difficult to gain the necessary Greek and Hebrew skills without the steady work and scrutiny of the classroom.

6. What sermon series are you doing right now?

I’m preaching through John’s gospel on Sunday mornings. I’ve just finished John 14: 1-6, and will look to vv 7ff in the weeks ahead. Having completed Philippians in the evenings, I am teaching a series called “Reflections on Redemption”, looking at each glorious facet of our salvation. Haven’t decided which book study to do next on Sunday night.


Blogger Jason E. Robertson said...

Jerry, what similarities do you find between being a counter-intelligence representative for secret military weapons programs and a pastor/theologian?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Jerry Wragg said...

Jason -
Only that both have a fancy title that basically stands for "one who serves another".
Other than that...perhaps...uh...things like: knowing the enemy---infiltration ops---espionage countermeasures---protection of vital assets...sounds a tad like pastoral ministry.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

My question: how many times have you heard that your singing voice sounds like Steve Green's?

12:21 PM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...


I was shouting "amen" when I read your comment that "The time-pressures and leadership challenges of ministry make it very difficult to read and absorb all the relevant material on a given passage or topic so as to handle it thoroughly."

This is a weekly frustration for me and I know for most preachers. Whereas in seminary I might have had an entire semester to study a topic, but in the pastorate it is like the semester is over in a few days. Many weeks pass where I wish I had just one more day.

However, these are minor things compared to the joys of ministry. Thanks for your thoughts.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kolstad said...

An excellent idea Paul. I would like more interviews like this one seeing they are very helpful.

11:30 AM  

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