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Preaching Articles

You probably have noticed that preachers come in all shapes and sizes. There are big, gregarious, sweaty-foreheaded preachers. There are short, slim, soft-spoken preachers. There are creative preachers who always have a slick gadget or a clever object of illustration. There are King James preachers who love "thees" and "thous" of Thy Holy Word.

So what makes a faithful preacher? Because God has called preachers to be faithful rather than successful, how can we be sure we are staying true to the call? Here are a few biblical criteria to keep us on track:

1. The preacher should give people a bigger picture of God.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5).

Ultimately, people need to be told repeatedly that the God of Scripture is bigger than all of our earthly problems. While preachers are wise to speak about complex issues of the culture, the need for people on Sunday morning is actually quite simple: Their minds need to be re-programmed to the idea that God is in control, that He loves them immensely and that nothing is impossible for Him. How quickly we forget these truths!

With the constant barrage of media messages, the average person struggles to maintain a biblical perspective about life. Our world drifts off kilter fast, but the preacher has a powerful role in bringing the listener back to the center while proclaiming the unchanging gospel.

2. The preacher should train people to turn to the Bible when problems arise.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The question I must answer as a pastor every Monday morning is, "Are people being pointed to the Word when work dries up, the child is diagnosed, or when in-laws sabotage a vacation?" The Bible is able to meet all of their needs; a pastor is not. As the preacher brings forth the Word week after week, people increasingly should be convinced that "all Scripture is God-breathed" and that His Word is able to equip them for every good work. 

3. The preacher should show people how to read, study and handle the Bible for themselves.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

The Bible is a very difficult book to read. Let's face it, we find it easier to read a New York Times' bestseller than Leviticus or Amos. A keen understanding of Scripture requires a certain level of skill and a special illumination of the Spirit. In corporate worship, the preacher should challenge people to cry out to God for the wisdom that flows from Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Revelation.

In addition, the preacher should demonstrate how God has penetrated his own heart with the truths he presents. His interpretation not only has been defended in the sermon, but it has been digested. The congregation sees this Word after it has been made flesh, and this heightens their interest, as well as his credibility. He handles the Word with precision.

4. The preacher should teach all parts of the Bible and show how unique and wonderful each section truly is.

"For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God" (Acts 20:20, 27).

Personally, I could camp out in James for a decade. I love that book. It is short, fast-paced and practical for everyday life. However, the Book of Malachi was inspired by God, too, and was placed in the Bible because it contains essential truth for spiritual growth.

The preacher should deliver a well-rounded meal throughout the calendar year and proclaim all parts of the Bible, not just his or her particular bread-and-butter passages. The best preachers make themselves servants of the Word and handle it all with reverence.

5. The preacher should challenge people to own the truth by responding to the message.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22-27).

What good is knowledge if it does not lead to life change? Every person who went to school can recall a particular math or science lecture that left students wondering, "What good will that do me?" Unlike that moment, church attendees should leave on Sunday knowing the message they just heard demands a real and practical response.

That reaction will vary from person to person and might include an inward decision to trust God with this week's electric bill; it might be an act of humility demonstrated through a heartfelt apology; or it might be an act of generosity as one writes a check to a specific ministry. There must be some reaction when the Word is preached. Faithful preachers do not hesitate to bring the challenge.

6. The preacher should prove that the Bible is ancient yet it speaks to us today.

"Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day. …They are not just idle words for you—they are your life" (Deut. 32:46-47).

Flip through the Bible for five minutes, and you will find this book contains all kinds of bizarre history. There are golden cows, weird temple furnishings, and visions of wheels in the sky. The preacher must do more than prove he or she has studied all week. The preacher must show how this study of history impacts the present and the future.

It was Harry Emerson Fosdick who declared, "Only the preacher proceeds still upon the idea that folks come to church desperately anxious to discover what happened to the Jebusites." That is so true! Pastors must work hard at the task of application and contextualization. What does this passage have to do with his or her life on Monday? Effective preachers answer that question carefully. The bottom line is that just because you appear on television or have your face pasted on a billboard does not mean you are an effective, faithful preacher of the Word. Pastor, be true to your call and be sure you are fulfilling your God-given role as proclaimer of the Word.

Ben Mandrell is the pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN.  A father of four and husband to Lynley, Ben’s passion is to see the local church become the saltiest salt and the brightest light she can be. 

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Mitchell Leonard

commented on Oct 29, 2014

This is a great article. Thanks.

Stephen Belokur

commented on Oct 29, 2014

Amen!!!

Ralph Jenkins

commented on Oct 29, 2014

Good article, our Youth Pastor has spent this past year with the theme of Teaching Youth to own their faith, rather than believing because parents believe. Your article challenges pastors to help the congregation to own their faith through scripture.

Stanley Florence

commented on Oct 29, 2014

That was good news for all that heard,pastors and believer of the word! we all have to participate in our growth in the word

Jeff Glenn

commented on Oct 29, 2014

Great article!

Steven Farless

commented on Oct 29, 2014

short, sweet, and relevant; the three must have qualities of a good article; I can't imagine that anyone would not appreciate it. and thank you so much for not taxing us with personal stories of how you came to each point; that is appropriated too. putting the article in my "review every now and then" file. thanks again

Steven Farless

commented on Oct 29, 2014

appreciated not appropriated

Kahu Wendell Davis

commented on Oct 29, 2014

A blessed reminder and awesome article!

Yukta Man Gurung

commented on Oct 31, 2014

Very good. It is a challenging coment for the pastors who really want to work for the Lord. Thankyou.

Jeff Strite

commented on Oct 7, 2015

Well done.

Sungnam Kim

commented on Oct 7, 2015

It is a good article, but (e.g.) what does Samson's story talk to us today? Many preachers have preached and taught as if Samson was an eventually victor but was he really? On top of probable 6 qualities the writer suggests, preachers need the quality to read God's message running through the failure of biblical figures such as Samson and Jacob, and many more.

Tony Bland

commented on Oct 7, 2015

How about the problem with relying upon your own strength and abilities rather than upon God?s let me know if you need more

Vicky Postelmans

commented on Oct 7, 2015

How about: The preacher should love people? He should care more about what God thinks than what people think? How about he should be filled with and walk in the spirit? He should get to know everyone? I could go on.

Robert Mason

commented on Oct 7, 2015

Robert J Mason of For Eternity Christian Church Great article for any Pastor or Minister. Thanks

Kent Dickerson

commented on Oct 9, 2015

Agree every thing with one caveat the statement in #3 "The Bible is a very difficult book to read". Yes, parts are, but most is not a problem in a modern version. I heartily state that #1 is of first importance. It's all about him! The remadepreacher.

Andre P.louis

commented on Oct 9, 2015

The bible is easy for us that God has called. Preachers have to refrain from abusive tongue. The reference is from the book of JAMES Dangers of the tongue;For ln many things we offended all. If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man.(JAMES 3;3) What we really need,is love toward one another,instead to use pretext about age,or politics and excluded.I see the same reality today when Jesus was arrested in Temple pursuant to the book of MARK.Some preachers would do the same if they were able to do like they did to Jesus Thousand years ago. Free Speech and the bible from the book of 2 Timothy a part;for correction,Rebuke,and useful for teaching.Block them to do the same otherwise they would.Paul .(MATTHEW 19:4-6) My Ministry will continue for the true of the Gospel Marriage is between and man and a woman Genesis 2:18-21) MELCHIZEDEK World Missionary,ANDRE P.LOUIS Evangelist/Online Preacher.Harmony,peace love,and together in UNITY.

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