I’ll begin by acknowledging that I am certainly no expert in the art of preaching. There are wonderful books written on the subject by people who are much more qualified, but after having labored in preaching since 1993 I’ve developed a philosophy of preaching that I think may be helpful. I’ll share a few thoughts for you to consider…
- Preaching is proclamation
Preaching is not contemplating, considering, or even conversation; it’s proclamation! In preaching, you are not merely a facilitator for people to determine what they like or dislike about the biblical text; rather you’re a herald, proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord!”
Throughout the Old Testament God ordained prophets to proclaim His word. These men were not assigned to poll the masses or politicize the message, they were assigned to herald the perfect message God had given them.
In the New Testament Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2) to “Preach the word…!” It literally means to herald or proclaim the word.
In teaching the word you may be more conversational, even getting your audience involved while explaining the point of a passage or discussing a doctrine. But in preaching, God has spoken and you are simply relaying what God has said, in a way that is compassionate, yet bold and unapologetic. Don’t ponder in the pulpit, proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ.
2. Preaching is Powerful
I am a weak and frail vessel, but when I simply proclaim God’s word, supernatural things happen. God uses the proclamation of His word to make people alive, convict people of sins, make broken hearts new, restore relationships, and much more. I am living proof that the faithful proclamation of the word of God is far greater than the efforts of man, regardless of your perceived abilities or disabilities.
The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God said,
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV)
I have learned to depend on the message, not the messenger. Let’s face it, why on earth would any preacher think he can out-power the breath of God?!? Preaching is powerful…open the cage, let the Lion out, and let it do what only it can do.
3. Preaching is Priority
I believe preaching is central to the ministry of the local church. I’ve witnessed churches slowly, whether purposely or not, allow the preaching of the word to become secondary or even tertiary. When that happens it’s like trying to breathe polluted air; your body will become poisoned and finally succumb to heart failure. It may be a slow process, but without preaching as priority there will be a steady decline from a biblical church. When a church permits music, skits, games, etc. to take priority over preaching, they have opened the door to the morgue. I enthusiastically agree with Al Mohler when he said,
Indeed, such techniques will not produce maturing and faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the preaching of the Word yields that sort of fruit.
When you simply preach the word, people will be genuinely changed, the church will be unified, and God will be glorified. Nothing else can do what “Thus saith the Lord” can do, therefore preaching must be priority in the church.
4. Preaching is preparation
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times, “Just get up there in that pulpit and preach from your heart!” But there are a plethora of problems with that… To mention a few, one has no idea what the bible says unless he practices good hermeneutics; and good hermeneutics requires work! The Bible is a mine filled with exquisite and priceless gems that the preacher must laboriously dig for. It takes great effort, discipline, and time but the payoff if eternal.
5. Preaching is Painful
Charles Spurgeon said,
If any man will preach as he should preach, his work will take more out of him than any other labor under heaven.
I can relate. More times than not, after preaching a sermon I simply want to nap. I’m drained, exhausted, wasted, and so on… Preaching, if done with power and passion, is grueling. I once heard preaching described like this, “You’ve labored all week, gave birth on Sunday, and pregnant again on Monday”. It’s a never-ending task that is grueling…but the result is eternally evident.
6. Preaching is a Privilege
The apostle Paul said,
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ
I agree. To think that I can stand before people and proclaim Jesus simply amazes me. I seriously cannot begin to fathom the fact that I am a servant of the most high God and He has assigned me to the task of preaching His word. There are some very high-profile positions in this world that people hold in high regards, but to proclaim the word of God to people out-privileges them all! This should be remembered every time one steps in a pulpit. It is nothing short of a privilege…treat it as one.
This could be an endless topic, but I must end…and what better way to end than with another quote from Spurgeon,
“The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes all hell shake.” ~ Charles Spurgeon