Monday, August 5, 2013

Dr. J. Vernon McGee's Recipe for Success by Chris White

J. Vernon McGee 1904-1988
I’ve always had a great appreciation for the radio Bible teacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee.  Even though he presented himself on the radio in a folksy, home-spun style, you could count on him to take you through even the most tightly woven Bible passage and come out on the other side with a lot better understanding.  I recently presented a series of biographical talks at my church and in preparation for the one I did on Dr. McGee I discovered what I believe to be some of the secrets of why he remains one of the most popular radio preachers today even though he passed away in 1988.  First of all Dr. McGee had a routine of personal Bible study that was nearly sacrosanct.  He would arise at 4 am and study the Word until 9am before having his breakfast and beginning his ministerial duties for the day.  This in turn would fuel his thinking and his heart and it certainly came out in his preaching.  Another principle that Dr. McGee lived by came to him as a young preacher.  Early in his ministry he had a teenage farm boy come up to him after church with tears in his eyes.  When McGee asked him why he was crying he said, “I never knew Jesus was so wonderful!”.  Dr. McGee considered this the supreme compliment anyone could give him on his preaching and from that day forward he prioritized making certain that his listeners always heard about their wonderful Savior.  Last of all, J. Vernon admired and was mentored by another great preacher and scholar by the name of Harry Ironside.  Ironside had a radio ministry himself and was the pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago Illinois.  Ironside said to “always put the cookies on the bottom shelf where the children can get them.”  What he meant was that the Word of God should not be preached with soaring rhetoric but rather explained in such a way that the common man may understand and take it’s message as something that applies to himself.  Who Dr. McGee was privately no doubt differs from the radio persona as is almost always the case.  But his goal of teaching the whole Word to the whole man seems to have been reached by the Dr. McGee we all hear on the radio.

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