Sermons and Speaking

A dynamic and gifted orator, Claypool was highly sought after as a guest preacher and speaker for institutions and organizations throughout the country.  Known for his confessional style of preaching, Claypool delivered his material with heartfelt and relevant personal examples of living the gospel teachings in daily life. In 1979, Claypool was the first Southern Baptist minister to be asked to deliver the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale University.  Those lectures were later published as The Preaching Event.
Claypool also made several significant television and radio appearances. Notably, he participated in the 1960s in a weekly radio program called “The Moral Side of the News,” which gained him an even larger audience.
Claypool lived his life preaching and teaching a message of hope in the face of uncertainty and of recognizing the essential gifts we are given as a starting point to living freely and with an open heart.  The Claypool Papers contain approximately 1500 printed sermons and 900 audiovisual recordings.

“The goal of preaching is to take what has blessed you and offer it in hopes of blessing someone else. It is gift-giving.”

Love Can Be Dangerous, 1959, First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA. Post-war America in 1959 began to show the emerging divisions of race, religion, and class.  Claypool uses the example of Jesus’ suffering and death in Roman-occupied Jerusalem to demonstrate the redemptive power of love available to all.  Christians are asked to be brave and love in this all-encompassing way.

Neighborliness in Today's World, 1973, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX. Claypool addresses the need to practice neighborliness for the good of urban society.


The Best and the Worst, 2001, First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA. Claypool’s sermon on the first Sunday after the 9-11 attack explores how the worst situations can allow one to transform life in positive ways. God’s grace has the power to turn negative experiences into saving and redemptive ones: “God is never outmatched by evil.”

The Preacher as Witness, 1979, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT. Claypool addressed the theme of what it is to be a preacher in his lecture for the prestigious Lyman Beecher series at Yale Divinity School.  His third lecture, sub-titled “How?” explores authenticity in ministry, which is found in personal, first-hand experiences and a vulnerability to the woundedness of others.

God Is an Amateur, 1979, Northminster Baptist Church, Jackson, MS. The sermon depicts God as an amateur in the original sense of the word, not as one who is an inexperienced novice, but one who does something for the love of it. God’s only motivation is love.

Claypool speaking, c. 1970s.