Why preach? Throughout college, I racked up eighteen hours of preaching credits. I have also attended several preaching seminars. Much of this time has focused on the content of the sermon as well as learning how to develop and deliver a sermon. Hence, the two basic required seminary preaching courses were titled Sermon Development & Delivery and Biblical Preaching.
This is all very important and I don’t want to detract from the great importance (and the necessary work) of developing and delivering sermons that are rooted in sound theology and a thorough exegesis of scripture. But this is not all there is to faithful preaching.
Consider one phrase in Acts about the sermon the Apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart…” (Acts 2.37, NIV). Here is what we know about this sermon. It was in response to an accusation. The Apostles were accused of being drunk but in reality, this was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (2.4,13). As a result, the Apostle Peter began to preach with such conviction that the Holy Spirit moved many among the crowd in a transformational way… just read the rest of Acts to see what I mean.
Now, to my knowledge, I have yet to preach a sermon where three-thousand plus people are moved to become disciples of Jesus. Yet over the last twelve years since I have been preaching, I have witnessed the Spirit move people through a sermon That is, there was something said in the sermon that moved the individual(s) into a deeper faith that is even more committed to living as a follower of Jesus. This was the work of the Holy Spirit, not me!
Oddly enough, I have become aware of this happening when I least expected it or when I was preaching a sermon that I was nervous about because I was afraid I might ruffle a few too many feathers. I once preached a sermon that rebuked racial discrimination and mistreatment of the poor. I was nervous about preaching that sermon but after I finished, three people responded seeking prayers as they confessed their own struggle with racism.
Preachers…when we preach, God is at work through his Spirit convicting and transforming people (including us). Sometimes we may visibly observe that power being displayed or we may be told about it after the fact by a person. At other times we may not even be aware of it. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is at work powerfully in our preaching.
Preachers… I hope this blesses you as you write your sermons and prepare for your worship gatherings this weekend. Preach the word!
For everyone else who will be gathering with a church this weekend, I hope this encourages you to gather with an expectation of the Spirit working.