Preachers, I'm speaking to you and to me today. For all of us who preached yesterday, here are my random thoughts about the task of proclaiming the Word. Lay leaders, pray for your pastors as you eavesdrop on this conversation among preachers.
- If you can't preach a sermon well in 30 minutes, it's possible you didn't do it well in an hour. I'm not arguing against long sermons, though; I'm simply saying that length doesn't necessarily make a sermon better. Boring 30-minute preachers will only double the boredom in an hour.
- Very little your church members told you yesterday tells you the value of your sermon. Their immediate response was just that—a response in the moment. The value of your sermon will be determined by whether their lives change this week. You may, in fact, never know those details.
- If you want a challenge, call five attenders tomorrow and ask them your main points of yesterday's sermon. If they can't remember (or if it takes them a long time to remember), it's possible they weren't listening well—but it's also possible your points weren't as clear as you thought.
- Only you know whether you covered your sermon preparation and delivery in God-centered, self-denying prayer. Others may assume it, but only you know for certain. The truth is that all of us can "perform" well in the pulpit without praying much. That's scary.
- If your hearers don't know some practical steps to take this week based on your sermon, you didn't go far enough in your preaching. The Spirit does the convicting and the directing, but that doesn't eliminate our responsibility to talk about application. That same Spirit can speak through us to our hearers.
- It's possible that some members decided yesterday whether to continue attending your church based on your preaching. That motive may be right or wrong, but it's reality. You cannot avoid both the practical and theological centrality of the proclaimed Word in the life of a church. Your preaching role carries much responsibility. Work at it.
- If you looked forward to verbal affirmations after you preached, you may still have to work on the pride issue. At least, I know I still have room to grow. It's easy to say, "Praise the Lord" in response to affirmations when you're really thinking, "That really makes my day." I'd appreciate your prayers.
Any thoughts, preachers?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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