A North Carolina pastor who has been spreading the gospel for over seven decades recently revealed the basic secret he believes is critical to any preacher’s success.
“Just love your people,” Pastor Ralph Sproles told WGHP-TV. “If you don’t love people, you’re not going to be effective in the ministry.”
Sproles, who is in his late 80s and still preaching at revivals and delivering occasional sermons, said this essential lesson is one every pastor must heed. Showing love for a congregation — and for people more generally—is at the very heart of any successful ministry, he said.
“I’m a hugging preacher,” he added. “I hug people.”
Sproles also emphasized the necessity of purposefully vocalizing his concern and feelings for others, stating that doing so is a demonstration of true faith and dedication.
“I tell people I love them,” he said. “When I see them at church, I say, ‘I want you to know I love you,’ because they don’t hear enough of that. That’s what the Christian life is about.”
Sproles has undoubtedly put these beliefs into reality during his decades-long career, not only delivering thousands of weekly sermons but also officiating at 206 weddings and 742 burials.
The “hugging preacher,” who started sermonizing as a college student in 1954, made his comments during a profile piece for WGHP-TV about his 250th revival.
He also had an important message about culture and the state of contemporary affairs.
“Times have changed, but the message hasn’t changed,” Sproles said.