John Markum

Preaching – part 1

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.



Fighting the wrong battles

I was once told by another pastor (whom I had previously never met) that I would be the downfall of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Why? Because he and I did not agree on secondary issues like Bible translations, music styles, and church labels. We had just discussed all the things that made us “Baptist” all of which we agreed on to the most minute detail. But the way he treated me, you would have thought I denied the resurrected Jesus! He didn’t care about me. He had a personal agenda, other than the kingdom of God. Instead of taking an opportunity to speak life, he stereotyped me as “young and rebellious” without knowing anything about me, or wanting to know.

The longer I’m in ministry, and the more God increases my influence for Him, the more people I inevitably come in contact with, some of which won’t know my heart, or care to know. I was challenged once on how to deal with these situations by this statement: “Refuse to fight battles where there are no spoils.” I got it… Because I have wasted far too much of my time, effort, and good temperament trying to argue my way through a battle that would result in no gain even if there was a way to win it. Even Jesus had critics and people whom He would never convince. Notice how little time He spent trying to deal with them!  Almost all of His time was spent on the people who would receive His words.

I am blessed to be a part of a great church family that responds to the message of that Word every week with faithfulness. Most of those who follow the blog are either the same way, or curious about this Christian walk. However, I’ve found that in life, ministry, and certainly the internet, that the more exposure you have, the more people you’ll meet that like to pick fights. I fought many philosophical and theological battles in 6+ years of ministry and have had to learn some important lessons the hard way. You’ll never change some people’s mind. Whether they are attacking you to try to prove you wrong, voice an opinion, push their own agenda, or just cut you down – some people will always misjudge you. I’m not talking about a brother or sister in Christ who approaches you to express their concern over a choice that you’re making. That’s just biblical confrontation and you should consider their concerns carefully before outright rejecting it. I’m talking more about the type who probably don’t even know you – or care to know you – but make broad assumptions and accusations about your character or motives. And while pastors can sometimes attract these type of critics, you don’t have to be in ministry to know what I’m talking about.

Don’t get all worked up when someone who has no love toward you treats you poorly, calls you names, or judges your heart. You and I will not answer to them. Live your life as God would have you, and hold yourself accountable to people who truly have your best interest at heart, and are following the Lord. There will always be haters. You and I can waste our time and good mood trying to correct them, or we can do good where it can really count. Let the haters hate on. But let us decide to be known by our love for one another and not give in to stooping to their level. You can’t throw mud without getting covered in it yourself.



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