Simple but full of zeal describes D.L. Moody’s work in each phase of his life. The way Moody developed the sermons he gave follows these same principles.
The D.L. Moody Process
- Tell the stories of the Bible in a way that the people of today understand.
This first principle for creating sermons is woven into Moody’s sermons over and over again. Moody believed that since the Bible is the ultimate source, it was best to preach with this as the basis, but what made his approach unique was to tell these stories with the language the people he was speaking to would understand. Moody used stories of people he had to encountered to tell the same lessons of the Bible. For example, the story of the prodigal son held more impact when Moody related it back to a woman he had met who was praying for her wandering son’s return. Jesus loved these parables, and Moody became a master of this concept as well.
- Always preach the gospel.
The gospel is the core message of the Bible, and Moody believed it was necessary to be faithful to share this message. What made Moody’s approach brilliant though, is that he did not go about forcing this upon people; he was skillful in how he wove the message of the gospel. One of Moody’s major shifts was a move away from preaching on hell, yet you will still be moved by how Moody stirred up the recognition in people’s hearts that they were broken and in desperate need of a cure. Preaching the gospel does not need to be fire & brimstone, but it is awakening people’s hearts to God’s call. A teaching shaped by grace and God’s abundant love is a powerful voice; it cuts through the noise of skepticism.
The honest truth of Moody
While these two themes highlight Moody’s work, many are quick to point out that Moody’s education and skill as a preacher was lacking. He was said to ramble, tell too many stories, speak too quickly, and many still take offense that he did not fit into a defined theology. These things are true, but they did not change his effectiveness.
Perhaps the reason Moody was so effective was that he did not prescribe to normal human standards. He simply preached Jesus, and this Jesus crosses all divides. Whether liberalism or apathy plagues Christianity, Moody’s method to hold firmly to the Bible as truth and make Jesus great is what reignited light in people’s hearts.
Moody also did not go out to preach in his own strength. He sought the advice of preachers and theologians, and he relied on many teams to share the gospel effectively. A spirit open for training and correction made the difference between Moody and just someone just blindly preaching what they wanted to believe.
So go forth and share the great love Christ, rooted in knowledge and grace.