When I was let go from my first vocational ministry the one thing I knew I wanted to continue to do was preach. I had no idea where God would take me, but it was clear in my mind what I was to do when I got there. The urge to preach was like my second calling. The first being my original calling to ministry while still in college. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it.
I have served as the Senior Minister for the Littleton Church since June of 2015. During this time, I have discovered that I love the ministry of preaching. I teach God’s word but I do not solely consider myself a teacher. I pastor the flock but I do not solely consider myself a pastor. I lead our ministry team and shepherds but I do not solely consider myself a leader. I am a preacher. I am called to cast vision, disciple, lead, pastor and equip through my preaching.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” – Romans 10:14 (NIV)
I preach because the world needs to hear a word from God.
For many people the only time they engage God’s word in a meaningful way is at church. I pray that God opens their ears and hearts each Sunday to receive His word. When they hear a word from God my hope is that they fall under conviction so that they recognize their hunger for God. May the sermon be a catalyst for them to give, pray, fast, study, love, serve and engage the living God every day of the week. May they be convicted to love as God loves and forgive as he forgives. May they also hear a message of hope that Jesus offers salvation and an abundant life in his name.
I preach because the world is far from God.
Each Sunday we have many guests in our worship gathering. If someone who is far from God is our guest, then I believe God is turning their heart toward him and I must make it easy for them to receive his grace and mercy. I also know that I can multiply my influence in compelling the church to be witnesses of the gospel. At the close of our services our church is sent out to go love God, love people, and share their faith.
I preach because of Jesus.
Christ is the goal of my preaching. I preach the word to lead the hearer to the Living Word. The word points to Christ, creation points to Christ, John the Baptist and every prophet pointed to Christ. Preaching points to Christ. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Without Jesus and the resurrection then our faith and my preaching is meaningless (1 Corinthians 15:14, NIV). Jesus told his disciples to make disciples; baptize them and teach them. Nothing could stop them from preaching – not beatings, imprisonment, or the threat of death. They would rather “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, NIV). They would not stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord because there was more at stake for them not to.
I preach because people need to be reminded.
I’ve heard a story of a young preacher who after preaching was greeted by an elderly congregant who said, “Young man, there’s nothing new that you could ever teach me.” To which he said, “I’m not supposed to teach you something new, I’m supposed to remind you of the things you already know.” We are forgetful people. That’s why we need the sacrament of communion to remind us of Christ’s crucifixion. It’s why the Apostle Paul pointed the Roman church back to their baptism when they were tempted to use grace as a license to sin (Romans 6). I am not called to find something new each week to share with my church I am called to present God’s timeless truth in fresh ways so that they will be reminded that He is all-powerful and all-good. They need to hear the good news each week so that their hope is renewed and they will be encouraged to press on toward glory.
I preach because I must.
It is often like a fire in my bones. I feel vibrant and alive when I preach. I complete my sermons on Wednesdays and by the time Sunday comes around I am ready to deal out hope. I believe it is the single most important thing that I can do each week. It is the what called me to this church and it is how I give the congregation the greatest value. Preaching is what I uniquely do for my organization.
I love to preach but I may love it too much.
The congregation will often tell me that they are so glad that I came to Denver. I receive instant praise after my sermons. The affirmation many times has to do with how I said something, an illustration I used, the energy and passion in which I delivered the message, and/or the use of a prop. I have heard it said that a successful sermon would compel people to say “God is amazing” not “You’re amazing.” Being on stage having a one-sided conversation gets in your head. The influence I yield can be intoxicating. Each week I must recognize that man’s praise is a shadow motive for preaching. I am often tempted to believe that my identity is caught up in being a preacher and not a Christ follower.
I also must remember that I am not as important as I think I am.
“One act of obedience is better than a thousand sermons.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The world needs more preachers. Even more than that, the world needs more people living out the sermon. Yet, I wonder if it takes a thousand sermons or rather for us to hear a sermon a thousand times before we become the sermon?
So with that, I preach.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2
If you are a preacher, why do you preach? If not, what’s your vocation? What’s your calling? Why do you do what you do?
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