Preaching Articles

If you listen to enough of a pastor’s sermons, you will hear a few things:

  1. What he is passionate about.
  2. What he struggles with.
  3. 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.

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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Dr. Ronald Shultz

commented on Jun 12, 2015

Good word, Josh! This is a very big problem within many IFB and other groups who prefer "bombastic" preaching versus "dry" expository preaching. I believe in Spirit led preaching even in an expository environment, but it seems odd that the Spirit never leads anywhere but maybe the same 6-12 subjects for years. Too often the newspaper becomes the driving force or knowing that certain keywords will elicit an amen to what was discussed with someone in private the week before. Sometimes a visitor with the "wrong" attire or accouterments ends up in the sermon.

Lawrence Webb

commented on Jun 12, 2015

Growing up Baptist, I was not aware of the liturgical year. I don't remember even hearing about it in my Bible major in college. It was no more than mentioned in homiletics in seminary. But in recent years, I have come to see its value. It certainly can be a way to avoid the "passion trap" you mention. Week by week, it leads me to consider passages I have never seriously looked at as sermon texts. I do not use a lectionary text every week, but now it is a regular option. Again, you're not as easily led to the "same old same old."

Mike Fogerson

commented on Jun 12, 2015

This a a good word, Josh. It is important pastors preach on a variety of topics in order to give a full and rounded teaching to the flock. To be effective we, us pastors, must be very sensitive and systematic when we look at our preaching schedules. The word is balance. Hamburgers and fries are awesome to eat but their not the best choices for us if we eat them for three meals a day. We grow weary of these foods if they are all we consume. The flock needs variety in their diet. A good serving of systemic theology with a side of practical Christianity and eschatology offers the sheep a balanced diet too. There is also a time to give the people a dish they have never tried (Jewish roots, Revival, Holy Spirit, etc.,) that they know other churches are consuming but these entree's are not served in their pasture. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who sets the menu, but it is the sensitive pastor who must serve and dish out what the Holy Spirit is cooking up. Again, thanks for the good word, brother.

John Gullick

commented on Jun 13, 2015

Kind of didn't really appreciate this - Because it kind of addresses something I have been avoiding. Thanks for the uncomfortable reminder - Maybe when I get back from mission I will preach on Galations. Did I just say that? Thanks again

Charles Scott

commented on Jun 13, 2015

Good discussion. A half-century ago I was still in Seminary and newly ordained in an "independent" Church. During the years in seminary "what to preach" was a question that occupied considerable thought. Then I had to "preach a funeral" for an uncle who had several children and numerous other relatives that did not attend any church. What to preach? As I researched the funeral material in the Seminary library, I felt dissatisfied. Then, I turned to the Seminary Bookstore and found a newly published ?The Pastor?s Prayerbook? by Robert Rodenmayer, and found many appropriate prayers not only for ?funeral occasions? but for nearly every function in Church and personal ministry. Rodenmayer?s collection has served me well for over 50 years and many of the prayers he references came from the English, Scotch and Irish Books of Common Prayer. The Seminary library also had a 1928 BCP which I purchased . With the aid of these Prayer Books and Bible, at a very young age I was able to select Scriptures and lead prayers that aided a grieving family. I still use both books. The Book of Common Prayer has a lectionary, if used for morning and evening prayer daily, leads one through the entire Bible in a year and through the Psalms every month. I have used the daily readings as the text for sermons. Since each day provides O.T., Psalms, Gospel and Epistle readings (8 a day), there is no question of having a variety of Scriptural subjects on which to meditate and construct lessons. Even at age 76, I marvel at the richness of the ancient, Greek, Latin and English liturgies, and learn more each time I review the day?s texts. Charles Scott

Andy Bright

commented on Jun 15, 2015

This is a good message. The main challenge of most of the present day church is that many preachers and teachers are becoming so lop-sided in their messages. This result is that many Christians fail to experience proper spiritual growth and maturity. My prayer is that God will awaken Ministers of the gospel to the dire need to depend on God to feed his Church ratherthan on our qualifications and experiences. Plase, let's stay focussed!

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