Preacher, Be Relevant!

The pulpits in so many churches are out of touch.  Preachers are spending time and energy preparing and delivering sermons that answer questions that nobody is asking!  It has nothing to do with theology or hermeneutical accuracy.  It has to do with people hearing a sermon and wondering, “So what?  What does that have to do with what I am going through?”

The tragedy is that it leads people to think that the Bible is not relevant to their lives.  That church is not relevant to their lives.  Preacher, as you prepare to deliver God’s Word this Sunday, remember a few things:

It’s not about:

  • Displaying your theological education
  • Giving biblical head knowledge
  • Showing impressive oratory skills
  • Getting as many “amens” as possible
Preacher, you need to seek God’s face, dig into God’s Word, plead for God’s power, so you can:
  • Address the actual fears, hurts, and struggles that the people are facing
  • Show how Jesus is the true answer to each of those
  • Give people specific ways to respond to God and His Word
I have heard that preachers should prepare their sermons in order to answer three questions:
  1. “What?” What is the biblical text actually saying?
  2. “So what?” How is it important and relevant to my life today?
  3. “Now what?” What am I supposed to do now?
Preacher, be relevant!  Those who come to God’s House are hungry to hear from Him.  They are needy, broken and hurting.  They need to hear from Jesus.  Will you point them to Him?
What steps do you take to try and stay relevant as a preacher?  What are some things you try to avoid?  I would love to hear you thoughts in the comment section below.

 

4 Reasons Why I Delegate Preaching

It’s that time of year when I invite other seasoned preachers to bring God’s Word to our congregation in a more extended way, through a series of messages. I may do so at different times throughout the year, but in January, it is more focused than at any other time of the year. Why is this necessary?

Preaching is one of my greatest passions. As the pastor of a congregation, it is also one of my responsibilities. In fact, I will soon be teaching a Bible institute course on homiletics, equipping others to prepare and deliver Biblical messages. So, why delegate this privilege?

  1. I need to be refreshed and renewed. Yes, I’m human. I get drained and weary at times. Members may think that pastors can go “full throttle” at all times, but it’s not true. Nor is it wise to even try. After one of the most intense ministry seasons (Fall and Christmas), it is important that I catch my breath, and allow other godly preachers to minister to my soul through the Word. It is also a time when I can evaluate the Lord’s work, seek God’s direction for the coming year, and do extended planning that I rarely have time to do.
  2. It is healthy for the church. A congregation can get into a comfortable rut of always hearing the same preacher, the same style, maybe even the same diet. They “enjoy” the preacher, so why listen to anyone else? Even though I seek variety in my preaching content, it is not the same as hearing God’s Word through the heart, life, and experience of another man of God. It expands our horizons, recaptures our attention, and reminds us (as I will point out in a moment) that it’s about God’s Word, not God’s servant. It is also healthy for a church to have a healthy pastor.
  3. We are a Body. The Bible is clear that the New Testament church is a body, made up of many members (1 Corinthians 12). The only Head is Jesus – not the pastor. The early church clearly had a team of pastors (elders, bishops) that ministered God’s Word in local congregations. There were also multiple preachers and teachers. In fact, it is the responsibility of local church leaders to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16), and above all, that includes preaching and teaching the Word of God. How are God-called preachers going to exercise their gifts if the Senior Pastor does not delegate any of the preaching?
  4. It’s not about me. It’s about hearing from God. Some members act as if they can only hear from God through the senior pastor, or their favorite teacher. As flattering as that may appear on the surface, it is not a good spiritual indicator. Paul rebuked the carnal Corinthians for focusing on those who were “of Paul” or “of Apollos,” when we are all simply ministers, and should be “of Jesus” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). We need to remember where our focus should be.

I remember growing up on the mission field, as my Dad planted churches and trained nationals to preach, teach, and lead the congregations. Any time some of the new “preachers” were scheduled to speak, there were members who would not come. Despite the accent, they preferred hearing from “the missionary.” The others weren’t as skilled, developed, and experienced. “It’s just not the same,” they would say. “I don’t get as much out of it.”

But I also remember one church member who would consistently say, “I’m here to hear God’s Word. It doesn’t matter who is the one speaking. I want to hear from God.” He was right. When we all come to church with hearts ready to hear and respond to the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, God is going to speak and do wondrous things. I’m looking forward to church on Sunday.  Are you?

Planning Your Preaching Calendar

The time has come for me, as a pastor, to begin planning my preaching calendar for this year. In fact, the time came a couple of months ago, and the LORD allowed me the opportunity to set aside a few weeks in January (with the help of a couple of preachers in our congregation) to recuperate from the craziness of the holiday ministry season and spend some time seeking the LORD for this new year. I want to encourage every pastor and preacher to devote some time and prayer to planning his preaching calendar ahead of time. Let me share a few things that I have learned in recent years.


Why it is helpful

Every day of the year we preachers know that “Sunday’s coming.” It is a reality that cannot be avoided, and that weighs on our heart. We know the responsibility that is ours before God to minister His Word to His people. It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. And there is nothing more stressful than knowing that you have a preaching responsibility, and not knowing what you are going to preach about. If we have no plan, no direction, we are starting from scratch each and every week. We waste valuable time just asking the LORD, “What now?” And when we have 3-4 preaching and teaching commitments a week, the stress can become unbearable. Planning the direction of your preaching and teaching schedule ahead of time does amazing things to reduce that stress. It frees you to focus the time you also need to give to administration, counseling, visiting and many other weekly ministry responsibilities. It also allows you to promote upcoming themes on your website or promotional material. The benefits are too many to mention. The same God who can fill your mouth with His Words at a moment’s notice will also give you long-term vision and direction in feeding His flock if you seek Him.

 

What to include

Pastors are accountable before God to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). We are responsible for how the flock is fed spiritually. Our aim is to see believers grow and mature in the things of God. We cannot just preach our favorite passages and topics. We can’t avoid passages and themes that are complicated and controversial. If it’s in the Bible, we are responsible for communicating it. Planning ahead of time to preach on different themes and topics holds us accountable. When you plan your preaching calendar, let me encourage you to consider including:

  1. Book studies
  2. Biographical studies
  3. Topical studies
  4. Key passages

Last year I preached through the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), Hebrews 11, and 1 John. I preached a series on the family, a series for new believers and a series on the Beginning (Genesis 1-11). The previous year I preached a series through the life of the Apostle Peter. The goal is a well-rounded spiritual diet for God’s people.

 

Who to involve

Part of the responsibility of church leaders is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). This includes preaching and teaching. I know that many preachers are very jealous of their pulpit, or feel that they are paid to be the ones behind the pulpit all the time. But that is not true. We are the overseers, and we are God’s men to cast the vision and lead the congregation to follow the LORD’s direction, but the church is a Body. Some of those in the Body have been called or gifted to preach, and we must give them opportunity.

Let me encourage you to set aside times in the year in which you allow others in your congregation to minister the Word. It may be a younger preacher getting started and needing experience. It may be a retired preacher needing to use the “burning fire in his bones” (Jeremiah 20:9). It may be someone on your pastoral staff. But it is good for God’s people to receive the Word from different people. It reminds them that it is God’s Word, not man’s word. It is not about the messenger, but about the Message. And we pastors set the tone and help guide this attitude in our congregation.

There are also special days throughout the year that a guest speaker can be brought in. Annual holidays, church anniversaries, revivals, conferences, or the pastor’s family vacation. These are also times that need to be planned ahead of time. You can work your preaching series around these events, perhaps using these breaks to end or begin a new theme.

 

Planning your preaching calendar can be a difficult task. We need to seek the LORD and listen to His voice. But it is incredibly rewarding, both to you and to your congregation. If you have found any specific thing to helpful in this area, please share your comments in the section below.