I want to share over the next several blog posts on the subject of preaching. As the pastor of our Saturday night service I preach every week, and frequently on Sunday mornings as well. This is by no means the end-all discussion on the subject, just a few thoughts I have as it regards to how God leads me and what I’ve experienced in 6 years in full time pastoral leadership. And to be clear, I don’t think for a second that I have “arrived” and possess all the answers on this subject. But whether you are a preacher with significantly more experience, a Bible college student preparing for ministry, a member/regular attender at your church, etc. I hope these thoughts can be encouraging and insightful to you.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread to the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10,11
It’s amazing how different some messages feel from others when you get done preaching:
Some messages feel great! People are getting saved, others are coming back to Jesus, and the feeling is electric. The Spirit of God is so powerful and obvious that it seems like you could have read a Dr. Seuss book and people still would have gotten saved. When the service is over you feel like running down the middle aisle and spiking your Bible in a victory dance. Ok, I’m exaggerating… a little. But every preacher hopes to feel God move in such a way, and to get to see immediate results from the preaching of the word.
Other messages feel tough. There is no great awakening taking place tonight. No mind-blowing stats to share at staff meeting this week. You still preached the Word, but it was difficult and you walk away wondering if it made any difference at all for anyone.
According to God in Isaiah 55, it did. Because His word is never ineffective. It always does what He sends it out to do. Yes, as church leaders we are suppose to “prove ourselves unashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” But God takes full responsibility for the results of sending His word out. Just as the rain waters the earth and returns to the heavens, when God’s word falls on people, it brings fruit that will return to Him.
Knowing this is extremely liberating and empowering to me as a pastor. One one hand, God promises the results when His word is preached. He has this under control. I need to give my best efforts, after all this is my calling from God. But in the end, He gets the responsibility and the credit for what happens when His word is preached.
But it’s also empowering because if God promises the results He desires, then I can boldly stand and preach because it isn’t ultimately up to me anyway. My faith is not in my ability to preach it, but in the power of the word. I can preach in confidence because I know my source is reliable.
Yes, there is much more to preaching than simply quoting God’s word. More on that later. But in the end, His word is the only thing that has the power to speak to the heart and effect change in someone’s life. Our job as preachers is to present that word clear, and compellingly to the audience God brings us.