It’s not hard to preach. But humanly impossible to do it right.

“Not that we are adequate for these things. But our adequacy (sufficiency) is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

If you want to be a preacher and are satisfied with what R. G. Lee called “sermonettes by preacherettes to Christianettes,” then you can do that easily enough.

Prepare sweet little devotionals around interesting Scripture verses you come across.  Add some cute stories and raise your voice at least once in the 15-minute message (to convince the more discerning that what they’re hearing is really preaching) and you can stay at that church a long time.

Lord, bless your churches and help your preachers.

However.

If you are a God-called messenger who believes that the sermons should speak to the culture and address issues people sitting before you are actually dealing with, sermons in which you bring the light of God’s eternal Word to shine upon the decisions people make, if you truly want to make disciples of Jesus Christ and not just church members, then you have a problem.

You’re not smart enough.  You are not holy enough.  You are not courageous enough.

My friend Rick Lance said, “You don’t have the morality, the mentality, or the maturity to do this  yourself.”

You’re going to have to go to the Lord and find out how He wants this done.

“Faithful is He who called you and He will bring it to pass” (I Thessalonians 5:24).

There’s a good reason for this promise.

If you do not go to Him and ask Him and wait before Him for His instructions, but decide that anyone can see what needs to be done and set about planning your  preaching ministry the way you “just know” it needs, your head will soon explode.

Your head will soon explode.

The demands are too numerous, the needs too great, the pressures beyond your ability to withstand.

You are not adequate for these things.

Think of it this way ….

A pastor in the second decade of the 21st century needs to be well aware of…

  1. The message of the entire Bible. (Good luck with that!)
  2. The changing culture of this country, as it moves more and more off the grid before your very eyes.  What was acceptable and reasonable a generation ago is now illegal; what is normal today within another generation will get you accused of being a right-wing reactionary and probably a terrorist. God help us.
  3. The religious alternatives to the True Faith. It’s not enough any longer for a pastor to proclaim that “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and “No one comes to the Father except through (Him)” (John 14:6).  These days a faithful pastor needs to know what those alternative faiths teach and why they are forbidden, and be able to do so intelligently.  He needs to be an apologist.
  4. What about ISIS?  Many in the pews listen for something in the sermons to indicate the pastor is aware of this terrorist organization, their philosophy, their goals,and their methods.  He needs to keep up with the daily news, at least at some level.
  5. What about immigration?  Half the members of our Hispanic churches in this metropolitan city are said to be illegal.  They are brothers and sisters in Christ.  And what about receiving immigrants from the MIddle East where terrorist groups slip in crazies to infiltrate the U.S.?  He needs to know what Congress is doing and the issues before the U.S. Supreme Court.
  6. What about people in the pews living together as husband and wife but without marriage?  And the changing view of the world toward homosexuality and trans-gendering.  Again, it is insufficient for him to slam these people as sinners and walk away as though he has solved the problems. He needs to get into their heads to find out why they think as they do and bring the gospel’s light to that way of thinking.
  7. What about youth ministry?  What does the pastor want from the new guy he’s hiring to reach the students?  Are there guidelines and no-no’s?  Are there dangers?

The list is endless.

When the Lord called me to preach as a college senior, only the first (“know the entire Bible”) was on the list.  The Middle East was on another planet, sexual deviation was just that, and youth ministry consisted of rallies on Saturday night to sing choruses.

The young adult beginning a pastoral ministry today can easily be overwhelmed by the expectations and demands upon him in daily service and particularly in his preaching.

That’s why he has to do these five things as a regular, consistent routine….

  1. Live on your knees, preacher.  Your constant prayer is “Lord, show me what you would have me to do.”
  2. Live in the Word.  Every pastor of a church of any size should have a room with a table where he can leave his Bibles and sermon study materials and know they will be there waiting for him tomorrow morning when he enters the room.  He reads and studies and lives in the Word all week long.
  3. Cut yourself some slack.  You’re not going to get this right all the time.  Do the best you can and expect to come up short from time to time.
  4. Attend the best conferences. Ask around. Other pastors will tell you the meetings they found most beneficial.  Do not waste your time on the others.  Urge your church leadership to set aside money in the budget for this continuing education.
  5. Have a team of brethren who are your soul mates.  You are all redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, you are all called by God into the ministry, and you are all finding it impossible to do perfectly.  So, you pray for each other and encourage one another, and periodically you get together for talk and prayer and more talk.

God bless you, pastors.  Particularly you young ministers who will some day look back on the year 2015 as a simpler time when the issues were blacker and whiter and the expectations were lower.

“Lord, bless your servants.  We claim the promise that ‘Faithful is He who called you and He will bring it to pass.”

“Bring it to pass, O Father. Whatever is Thy will. Amen.”

 

2 thoughts on “It’s not hard to preach. But humanly impossible to do it right.

  1. I would also add that while this may only occur on special occasions, e.g. weddings, funerals, Christmas, and Easter, you may have 5 generations present while you preach. The older people may be more forgiving and a friendlier crowd. Meanwhile the younger people, which make some older pastors uncomfortable, will be listening for the first 10 minutes to hear if you can relate to them. If you can, you have partly succeeded. If you lash out at them, that’s not good. If you come across as uneducated, they will quit listening.

  2. Pastor Joe, your Biblical advice, insights on writing and sense of humor are helping me to write part two of my blog post on depression during the Christmas holidays. (Actually any day.) I fear that part one of my “Blue Christmas….” post may have depressed some folks 🙂 ( Though people have written I’ve helped them in the past.) In the interim I got sort of “hooked” on your humorous stories, jokes and cartoons. Ah humor! Along with prayer and fasting, singing and praying unto the Lord Jesus Christ and the reading of God’s great promises…”A merry heart doeth much good…” Thanks for the reminder. Tory (Camille)

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