- It is more than speaking in worship services, and it is deeper than offering life-learned principles. It is communicating God's Word to His people - standing between the world of Scripture and the world of people and speaking the truth of God. Unfortunately, today, many pastors are careless in this task and allow preaching to become a secondary priority, which has produced poor preaching and minimal growth in the Church. Some wonder whether preaching is an out-of-date form of communication and not of value to current church needs. However, it is in the preaching ministry of the Church where God's Word is proclaimed and His people are called to respond. Therefore, pastors and church leaders alike must gain a firm grasp of the importance and power of preaching and an awareness of what is and is not true biblical preaching.
Craig Brian Larson of PreachingToday.com has written an insightful and helpful article on the Spiritual Disciplines and preaching. He notes that most programs on Spiritual patterns either ignore preaching or relegate it to a mere mention.
- Good preaching rescues us from our self-deceptions and blind spots, for left to ourselves we tend to ignore the very things in God's Word that we most need to see.
- Preaching brings us before God's Word in the special presence of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the gathered church.
- Good preaching challenges us to do things we otherwise would not and gives us the will to do them.
- Good preaching brings us into the place of corporate obedience rather than merely individual obedience.
- Good preaching contributes to spiritual humility by disciplining us to sit under the teaching, correction, and exhortation of another human. Relying on ourselves alone for food from the Word can lead to a spirit of arrogance and spiritual independence.
- Good preaching gives a place for a spiritually qualified person to protect believers from dangerous error.
- Preaching and listening is a uniquely embodied, physical act. It literally puts us into the habit of having "ears that hear." There is something to be said for this physical act of listening and heeding.
- Good preaching does what most Christians are not gifted, trained, or time-endowed to do: interpret a text in context, distill the theological truths that are universally true, and apply those truths in a particular time and place to particular people in a particular church—all this with the help of resources informed by 2,000 years of the Church's study that average Christians do not own.
- Listening to preaching has a much lower threshold of difficulty for almost all people.
The question is , "If preaching is so important, how can some “Christians” listen to it for decades and not be transformed?"
- My reason for this is because many people do not know how to listen and apply what they are hearing. They hear with their mind, I guess, but do not listen to what is said, for various reasons. Their understanding abilities seem to be in proportion to their spiritual development and discipline in learning how to translate what is being preached.
THE PROBLEM BETWEEN THE PULPIT AND THE PEW
THE PREACHER PREACHING AND THE PEOPLE LISTENING
- Part of the problem is in the method itself. Most truths are better conveyed when people can see or create images, touch, read, and hear in music those truths, and when those present can in some way take part and maybe even discover some of this for themselves rather than just being told.
- Part of the problem is today's people. Unless they come in already interested, most of them shut their minds off after a few minutes, deciding that what they're hearing does not matter or is the same old blah blah blah. It's a way of passing quick judgment on someone, a reflex action in people who think they have no time or mental energy to 'waste'. But no one can listen, learn or experience when in a shut-down mode. (Really, many of us don't even know how to listen anymore, much less bother to actually do it.) There's no personal growth or saved time when just sitting there numb.
- Part of the problem is with the presenter. Very few have real skills and gifts for effective preaching or speaking, and, to be honest, many preachers don't really believe most of what they're saying, it's just a part of their job. This is made worse by reliance on past sermons and sermons that are mostly swiped from other preachers.
The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not, 'What a lovely sermon!' but 'I will do something.'”
-St. Francis de Sales(1567-1622)