Patter vs. Style (or: Cheap Knock-Offs)

We’re smart enough to know that we shouldn’t style ourselves after the more popular preachers, but not wise enough to follow our own counsel!  It is one thing to pattern yourself after someone you admire and something else to slavishly copy their style.  Calvary Chapel has a pattern of ministry bequeathed to us by Pastor Chuck Smith.  It is one thing to follow the pattern of ministry we see in Chuck, it’s another thing to slavishly copy his style of ministry. 

Look at the pattern of Pastor Chuck’s preaching – verse by verse, informational, devotional, Christ-centered, applicational, conversational preaching.  I have noticed that the movement as a whole seeks to follow this pattern of preaching, and I have noticed that many seek to copy Chuck’s style of preaching.  Chuck has a voice, a mood, a cadence, a ponderousness that is uniquely his own.  Something that is unique cannot be copied.  We can imitate Chuck’s pattern of ministry, but we can’t copy his style of ministry – but many still try.  And in trying to copy Chuck, they are slow to develop their own unique style. 

Many imitate the pattern of Pastor Chuck, but have a style all their own.  We can see in Bob Coy, Jon Courson, Raul Ries, Mike McIntosh, etc., the pattern of Pastor Chuck, but each has their own unique style.  You can follow the pattern these men follow, but the style has to be all you.  That’s probably what scares you!  You’ve never allowed yourself to be you.  I know that hindered me for years – and it still does at times.

I am enjoying a new liberty in the pulpit as I distance myself from the style of others.  I am allowing Tim to be Tim.  As I try to be someone else, I am quenching the Holy Spirit for I am distancing myself from what God made me to be.  Tim, set on fire by the Holy Spirit, is what the people need.  They don’t need me to channel Jon Courson or Pastor Chuck.  Learning effective techniques of communication is one thing – copying style is another.  The power of the Holy Spirit isn’t released by sitting on a stool, or by standing in one place, or by walking around.  The power of the Holy Spirit isn’t released by trying to strike a certain mood or by getting into some kind of rhythm.  The Holy Spirit is released as you yield yourself to the Lord and He flows through you the way that He created you.

If you’re humorous, be humorous.

If you’re slow with humor, don’t do it.  Is there anything more awkward than a serious preacher trying to use humor?  It’s downright embarrassing.

If you’re not a passionate type like John Piper, don’t get yourself worked up.  Artificial passion comes off like cold frenzy.  Sincerity doesn’t need an intense passion in order to be felt.  There is a quiet passion that flows from some.

If you’re over 35, don’t use the word ‘chillaxin.’  Yell

Those who attend Calvary Chapel Fremont from other Calvary Chapels will be comforted that the church I serve follows the expositional pattern of the Calvarys, but they will be refreshed by my style as I am filled w/ the Spirit and communicate the truth of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit.

Be you in the pulpit.  Find your own unique voice and style.  The church you serve doesn’t need a cheap knock-off.  They need you, filled with the Holy Spirit, bringing the Word.

5 replies
  1. Ryan
    Ryan says:


    From someone who is relatively new to teaching, it is a big draw to want to imitate someone else because of insecurities I have of myself. I desire to be a better teacher but don’t have the experience. In the same way I sometimes desire to be more mature in the faith but have not yet put in the years of being faithful. This was a good reminder and very clear about how to seperate between imitating someone and following a guideline. Thank you.

  2. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Ryan – not all imitation is the evidence of laziness. Training wheels may be necessary for a while, but then they need to be shed so you can ride on your own. Finding your own voice and style is a great adventure. May Christ shine through you.

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