If You Can Be One Thing…

I’m thinking about the subject of preaching today.

The prevailing thought occurring in my mind at the moment is:

If you can be one thing in your preaching, be faithful.

As we learn to communicate through preaching, we generally focus on the desire to be a number of things.

1) Relevant
2) Clear
3) Engaging
4) Dynamic
5) Authoritative

Additionally, a number of temptations arise in our flesh as we desire to be:

1) Funny
2) Slick
3) Cool
4) Sophisticated
5) Entertaining
6) Someone we really look up to who we think is a great preacher

Again, if you can be one thing in your preaching, be faithful.

I think it is fairly obvious that we should avoid the second list above. It will become very clear to your listeners if you are attempting to be any of those things. Is it wrong to be funny in your preaching? I don’t think so. Yet, if your goal is to be entertaining, to get laughs, or to receive feedback related to such, you are certainly missing the point. Your preaching style, voice, demeanor, etc. should reflect who you actually are in real life. If it doesn’t, you are probably not ready to preach yet.

As for the first list, I think all 5 of those are worthy qualities in a preacher. However, I would propose that they should be ancillary, not primary, in terms of our goal in preaching.

If you can be one thing in your preaching, be faithful.

I think if we start there, we will be good in shape. Let me explain what I mean.

As we approach the responsibility to preach, our goal shouldn’t be to be relevant. If we start with relevance over faithfulness, we will be asking the wrong questions as we prepare our sermons. We will be asking:

1) What can I say that my listeners will find pertinent?
2) What kinds of things do my listeners desire to hear?
3) What is on the forefront of my listener’s minds as they walk in the doors on Sunday?

I’m not claiming that there is anything wrong with these questions, but I don’t think they are the first questions we should be asking.

Shouldn’t the first question always be: What has God said?

If we baptize the relevancy questions under that question, suddenly our perspective changes. Now, as we are seeking to show the relevance of what God has said in His Word (the means through which souls are truly saved, by the way), we now ask:

1) How can I faithfully communicate the pertinence of this Truth to my listeners?
2) How can I show them that Christ is the deepest desire of their souls?
3) How can I bring this truth to the forefront of their minds, so that everything on their minds is put in submission to the reality of God’s word in Jesus Christ?

The same applies to our desire to be engaging or dynamic. If our first desire is to be these two things, we will be asking these questions as we prepare:

1) What moving story or illustration can I unveil that will provoke great emotion in my listeners?
2) What catchy phrases or memorable one-liners can I say that will stick in their minds?
3) What topics can I address that will get people listening?

Again, if we start with: What has God said? then our perspective will shift. If we desire to be faithful to what God has said, these questions will become:

1) How can I skillfully illustrate this truth from Scripture in a way that makes it clear on street level?
2) How can I craft the points of the sermon in such a way that the truths of the text of Scripture clearly take root in the listener’s heart and mind?
3) How does God’s word inform our thinking concerning the topics that are at the forefront of our minds?

If you can be one thing in your preaching, be faithful.

In being faithful, we must start with the question: What has God said? The answer to that is found in the Scriptures. When we begin with the Holy Spirit inspired word of God, we will be taking the first step on the path of faithful preaching. From there, God will give us the ability to be relevant, clear, engaging, dynamic, and authoritative through His Spirit and with His word.

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About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
This entry was posted in 2theSource, For Pastors, Preaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to If You Can Be One Thing…

  1. Being relevant without being faithful to the concept of what God wants you to say, and focusing on the reason we meet as a church body, leads to a sermon where two men sit on bar stools and take turns reading Dr. Seus’ “Yurtle the Turtle”.

    Anchorage, AK Winter of 2008. I’m still scratching my head over how that began, and ended the sermon that Sunday.

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