“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall
they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How
beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel
of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”
Food For Thought… Okay, this may sound a little self-serving since I am one, but I just want to echo what Paul is saying: Up with preachers! The Christian message requires them! The building of faith requires them! The evangelization of the world requires them!
You go, preacher!
Did you notice that the Gospel formula, if you will, goes something like this: Salvation requires belief; belief requires the communicated Word; the communicated Word requires a preacher; and the preacher requires a divine call. Therefore, in the Christian equation, preaching must be kept preeminent! It is the God-ordained tool for building faith:
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
We live in a culture where far too many churches have downplayed the preaching of the Word. People don’t like to be preached at, so preaching is reduced to “sharing”, and messages are more like motivational pep talks and self-improvement sessions. In truth, what passes as a message in many of those gatherings is nothing more than a “longhorn” sermon—a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.
Not only is the sermon reduced to a lesser role, but in the place of preaching, music and drama has taken the preeminence. Now don’t get me wrong—I love good music, and I believe that churches ought to have the best fine arts approach to worship and evangelism possible. Too many churches turn off spiritual seekers because the song selection is out-of-date, the style belongs in the dark ages, the skill of the musicians would be better served as an implement of torture in the hands of CIA agents at Gitmo, and the old adage that “no drama is better than bad drama” has definitely been ignored. There needs to be a commitment to excellence befitting the King of Kings in regards to the worship arts of a church. And I thank God that I belong to a fellowship with that kind of commitment.
But the preaching of the Word must never lose it’s primacy in the ministry of the local church. Churches must be committed to it, and must demand the same kind of skill that I’ve just suggested of the church’s fine arts. Why? Because preaching is the primary vehicle for the development of disciples and for the formation of faith necessary for spiritual seekers to find Christ. The Word of God must be taught clearly, thoroughly, accurately, interestingly, relevantly, passionately and consistently, or the church has failed in its mission.
Richard Baxter, the Puritan preacher once remarked, “I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” Your preacher must be fully aware that when he or she preaches, eternity literally hangs in the balance. I would recommend that you copy that down on a 5 x 7 card and tape it to the pulpit in full view so that when your pastor steps behind “the sacred desk”, he or she is reminded of their role and senses your supportive expectation that they are carrying out the central activity of the gathered community of faith: the preaching of the Word of God!
Oh, one more thing. Your preacher may be the one assigned to declare God’s truth to your congregation from the pulpit, but you, too, have been called to preach the Good News. You are a preacher, and the world you find yourself in is your parish.
So preach away—both with your life and your words.
Prayer… Dear Lord, I want to thank you for every Bible-teaching preacher that I have ever heard in my life. Bless them for their faithfulness and reward them with the knowledge that their sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears in preparing and delivering their sermons is paying off in the lives of their listeners, including me. And Lord, I would pray that you would enable me to be a faithful preacher, whether behind a pulpit or in the parish of my world. Inspire me to preach to dying men and women as if I might never have the opportunity to preach again. Remind me that someone’s eternity hinges on my words. Therefore, may the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing unto you. Amen.
One more thing… “All originality and no plagiarism makes for dull preaching!” — Charles Spurgeon