Yesterday we preached about preaching and it's importance to the ongoing growth (numeric and spiritual) from Acts 5 and 11. As usual some stuff I write and think about in the office doesn't make it to the finished sermon....so here are some things that I deeply believe about preaching that will give insight as to why I preach the way I do at Eastview:
1. The Bible is powerful, lifechanging, convicting, encouraging, etc.... Therefore the thoughts of the sermon, words of the sermon, and point of the sermon must come from what the Bible actually says.
2. Preaching through whole books of the Bible keeps me honest in addressing the whole word of God and not just my favorite parts. By preaching through Deuteronomy, Luke, Acts, and heading into Genesis, I am dealing with texts that many have never heard sermons on before...and you know what...they are awesome teachings from the Word.
3. Preaching over the long haul makes more of a difference than one great sermon. My desire is to preach weekly with passion, spiritual insight, and hard work so that over a period of time God grows us through a consistent diet of his word. To me, the "that sermon was awesome" is a spiritual steroid...only several years of a steady diet of preaching will make the body healthy...so the preachers job is to just keep feeding the bread of life.
4. Preaching is an individual event for the specific audience it is delivered to. I believe that the Holy Spirit moves in each speaking of the sermon to each audience involved as HE wishes. This means that while the sermon may be the same, the third service sermon may be a bit different from the first service sermon. I think this incarnational approach to preaching is best...a real live human, speaking to other real humans the real live Word of God.
5. Preaching is a gift that God has given to people within His church from the very beginning. It is good to remember that preaching is one of many spiritual gifts and is not more important than the others, however, it is crucial to inspire, instruct, convict, motivate, and exhort those of hte body who have other spiritual gifts. So, preaching is not more important than mercy, but preaching may inspire those with the mercy gift to use their gift more effectively.
6. Preaching is where the best leadership takes place. I think that I have a leadership gift, but more I think I'm a preacher and that my best visionary leadership comes from preaching the Word. There are some who complain about not being able to lead their leaders or congregations to go in certain spiritual places. I always respond, "If this is a God's vision, why not preach them there?"
7. Preaching is an honor and a burden. It is hard work and incredible fun. To preach means to carry the burden of communicating on behalf of God and it is the privilege of saying, "Thus sayeth the Lord." Those who don't preach would be surprised at two things: It is so hard it can give you a headache and even old guys like me still get nervous AND it is so fun, there are not many things in life I would rather do.
8. Preaching is definitely affected by the listeners. I am privileged to preach in a setting where people are ready (even anxious) to hear the word of God...this makes it so much easier. Of course, there are those who aren't listening, don't want to listen and can't listen because of distractions, but the influence of listeners around them draw them into the teaching. It is amazing to watch even as I'm preaching.