‘The Art of Preaching’ a presentation by the Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Canon Treasurer of Canterbury Cathedral

Monday saw a special guest attending to present to both members and guests; a fascinating insight based on 20 years’ experience of planning and delivering sermons.

 The Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Canon Treasurer of Canterbury Cathedral spoke about preparing sermons, but his five areas of advice are invaluable for all speakers.

The Context

A sermon is not an ego trip, lecture nor some political manifesto, but it always part of an act of worship: an offering to God. As such the speaker cannot allow anything to detract from that vital purpose.

The Purpose

Canon Papadopulos sees the purpose of a sermon as prophesy (not prophecy – the spurious predictions of the future) but a reflection on what the spirit of God has to say in these current times. This follows the long tradition of Prophets who were readers of their present which they interpreted in the light of what God wanted for that generation.

The Source

The raw material for the sermon is the tradition of the church to which the preacher belongs: at the heart are the Scriptures and a reflection upon the words (as well as the history of the words). Canon Papadopulos will spend a week reflecting upon the words: ‘a journey from the head to the heart’. He is also able to bring his training as a barrister to help interrogate the meaning of the words.

The Connection

Having chosen the text, Canon Papadopulos will look for a thread which can run through the sermon – akin to the motif which might run through a musical composition. ‘Avoid Gimmicks’ was a key piece of advice as it may detract from the purpose of the sermon. 

The Self

A sermon is not an opportunity for personal therapy; not an excuse to show off ones knowledge of the Bible; not to make the congregation’s worship of God harder because of distractions. ‘Integrity, not indulgence’ was the lesson. Authenticity is also important: speak as the person you are and be true to yourself.


We would like to express our sincere thanks to Nicholas for taking the time to speak to our Club, and we wish him all the very best in his new role as Dean of Salisbury Cathedral.