If you listen to enough of a pastor’s sermons, you will hear a few things:
- What he is passionate about.
- What he struggles with.
- What he wants to become.
Pastors tend to stick with what they know or like. If I had my way, I’d preach on a New Testament letter every time. Other guys would preach from a gospel whenever given the chance. A few will throw in some Old Testament wrath of God.
This past Sunday, as we were going through Galatians, we got to a topic that I haven’t preached a lot. It isn’t because I don’t care about it or don’t think it is important. Truthfully, it hasn’t come up in any of the series we’ve done. It’s the topic of approval.
Now, we all struggle with approval to some degree. We all care what people think, to some degree. For me, my struggles center around control and power. I don’t care too much if you like me, but I do care a lot if I lose.
If a pastor isn’t careful, they will only preach on the things they find important. This can be good and bad. It means a pastor is passionate about what he is communicating. His sermons will tend to be more thorough because it’s on a topic he likes or has read a lot about (maybe because he struggles with it).
If you aren’t careful though, your sermon will end up missing an enormous part of your church. Your church doesn’t have the same struggles you have. They don’t have the same temptations or history or baggage that you do.
Because of that, they need to hear sermons about things you aren’t as passionate about.
This is one of the benefits to preaching through books of the Bible. You can’t skip anything. Now, choosing to preach through Galatians, I knew I was going to hit the topics of legalism, approval and moralism. It is the theme of the book. It is one of the reasons we chose it, because we haven’t had a lot of sermons on those topics.
Pastors also tend to stay away from topics they don’t want to talk about. Maybe a pastor is more of a shepherd than a vision-caster, so he won’t preach a lot about vision. This will lead the church to be aimless. Or maybe he’s a vision-caster who can’t stop talking about the church's mission, but no one ever gets cared for because he never preaches on it. Maybe a pastor isn’t an evangelist, so there is no talk on evangelism, just discipleship and growing. Or the other way around.
If you simply talk about what you like, care about, are passionate about or things you know about, you will keep your church from hearing all that God wants to teach them.