bits from bob....
In a recent visit with an elder friend in a church of Christ that was between preachers and actively seeking a new preacher, my friend made an interesting comment in reference to the men they were interviewing. "Most of them aren't church of Christ." I asked for an explanation as to why the church was seeking preachers among those who weren't affiliated with the church. His answer took me aback.
"I don't mean they aren't part of the church of Christ. I mean they don't hold to the distinctive teachings of the church." His continued explanation covered several items--some expected and some unexpected. Among his observations: they aren't interested in preaching the biblical text...they just don't know the Bible...they aren't interested in being students of Scripture... they have no problem with including instruments of music in the assembly...they hesitate to teach a Bible class which uses the Bible and not some other material.
Whether you agree or disagree with the one doctrinal issue which this elder included in his list, his list indicts those of us who preach, and urges us to ask afresh what it means to be called to be a preacher. I remind us, therefore, of some great truths concerning preaching.
I. Preachers should preach their faith, not their doubts.
The focus of preaching must be the word of God. Great preaching is not story-telling, although narrative preaching is an effective tool. Great preaching is not focusing on a secular story to draw out a few spiritual truths. Great preaching is the communication of the word of God.
The assembly is a place of building the shared faith which connects us to Christ and to one another. Assembly is a place for unifying, not dividing. Preachers must preach their faith. The songs we sing should be songs of faith. The prayers we pray should be prayers of faith. The conversations we share should be talk of faith.
If it is easy for the members to forget that faith is essential in assembling for worship, it is the preacher's job to remind of the presence of faith. We are to preach the faith in faith. This is personal faith. This is who we are.
II. Preachers should seek to unify, not divide.
The assembly is a time for preaching that which binds us together, not that which is tearing us apart. Preaching must not be divisive. Preaching must bring the family together at the foot of the cross. Preaching must proclaim the uniting power of Jesus as Lord. There is ample time in smaller groups for learning where I in my individuality fit into the larger body of Christ, but as we assemble around the table, we are one body, partaking of one bread, and of one cup. The preacher stands to break to us the one bread of life which provides spiritual nourishment and sustenance.
III. Preachers must always preach in hope.
Listening to preachers, I think some have lost hope. I hear statements like "Perhaps the day in which people respond to preaching is over. Perhaps the day of preaching is past." Some churches have given up on preaching in favor of drama, or skits, or other communication methods. Some elders have given up on preaching and quit offering Wednesday evening invitations. But the power of the cross is the power of preaching. Paul wrote, "Woe is me if I do not preach...." The foolishness of preaching saves those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21).
Preachers must preach in hope. Great revivals have historically come from great preaching. Preach the Word!
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