Would you agree that preaching and teaching can make or break a church? Preaching is the most powerful tool for directing a church, for creating health, for encouraging vitality and for promoting growth. Nothing even comes close because there is no other place in your congregation where you have everyone's undivided attention on a weekly basis. Next Sunday, 55 million Americans will listen to over a billion words of sermons. When it's all been said and done, a lot more will have been said than done.
Until you understand God's purpose for everyone, you're not ready to preach. Second Corinthians 3:18 (TLB) says, "As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him." God's No. 1 purpose is to make us like Christ—to think like Jesus (Phil. 2:5), to feel like Jesus (Col. 3:15) and to act like Jesus (Col. 3:17).
Therefore, the goal of preaching must be to do the same: to make people like Christ. "Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. ... But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in his deeds" (James 1:22, 25, MEV).
When we get people to look at the Word, to remember the Word and to do the Word, they are inevitably changed. That's the power of God's Word.
But here's the major problem. Many pastors are using a style and a method that get people to look at the Word, but not to remember it or do it. If your preaching is producing hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word, you need to refocus on God's purpose for preaching.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century.
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