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Preaching Articles

I am educating my congregation.

Because we affirm the Incarnation—the doctrine that God became flesh and lived among us as Jesus Christ in a specific culture and at a specific time and in a specific place—we are confessing that all truth from God is contextual. The Holy Spirit does not speak to us through a heavenly megaphone but from within the context of the biblical writers and within the context of our everyday reality. Our context is ever changing. Thus, I always have the task of interpreting our context relative to the biblical context; that is to say, my sermons always have an educational dimension, but an educational dimension without academic prerequisites.

I am bringing my congregation closer to personal faith.

All congregations live to some degree in denial because the acknowledgement of hardship, distress, and adversity is not only unpleasant—it puts one at a social disadvantage. For this reason, the people in my congregation, having insight into their own souls but not into the souls of others, tend to bear their own suffering in silence and solitude. If my sermon were to stop at the educational task, they would all be trivia experts who despair for their lives. I must not leave them there!

To proclaim Jesus as the Answer, I have to demonstrate that I understand the Question, and I have to demonstrate that the Solution fits the Problem. I have to read the Ecclesiastes in their souls before I can apply the gospels to their hearts.

My sermons cannot deny the demons of their spiritual pain; I must cast them out by name, filling the void they leave behind with the presence and love of Jesus Christ.

I am motivating my congregation to Christian discipleship.

I observe that very few people are bodily assumed into heaven upon praying, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart,” and that is because there is a reason for the interval between conversion and death that goes beyond fixing our destination as heaven.

If the church were an animal, Christian education would be its bones and faith would be its muscles, but even with flesh and bone, the animal is not complete. An animal that does not move or interact with its environment is dead. Or as James says, faith without works is dead. So my sermon, having cast out the demons named in Ecclesiastes, having applied the balm of the gospels, must motivate my congregation to discipleship.

We confess Jesus Christ as Lord, but so did every demon in the New Testament. So how can you tell the difference between a Christian and a demon? It is only through our obedience, our service, our discipleship, and our stewardship that we are better than the demons. Thus, my sermon must move the congregation to action.

I am glorifying God.

God is glorified when His little ones struggle and prevail. My congregation is already struggling beneath their layers of respectable denial. When my sermon educates them, casts out their demons by name, and motivates them to Christian discipleship, only then does it equip them to prevail. When they prevail, God is glorified.

For this reason, I do not hold that the preacher is channeling God, to put it in New-Age talk. The Holy Spirit only speaks through me retroactively, after my sermon has educated my congregation, after my sermon has kindled their faith, after my sermon has motivated their discipleship, and only after that discipleship has born fruit in deeds of faith. Preaching is thus a sort of apocalyptic act; its meaning is found only in its culmination.

Ken Collins is an ordained minister in the Christian Church, which is a member denomination of the Churches Uniting in Christ and Christian Churches Together in the USA. He's the pastor of Garfield Memorial Christian Church in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.

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Ed Ethridge

commented on May 18, 2012

I can agree with your 4 statements,however I believe the essential reason anyone preaches must be because HE is called by God.It cannot be a profession or individual choice one makes.

Pastor Herbert W. Roshell

commented on May 18, 2012

I felt uplifted after reading this article and it will be helpful going forward. I really love this part "We confess Jesus Christ as Lord, but so did every demon in the New Testament. So how can you tell the difference between a Christian and a demon? It is only through our obedience, our service, our discipleship, and our stewardship that we are better than the demons. Thus, my sermon must move the congregation to action". Most time we believe we know the ones who mean us NO good... but most of time we are dead wrong. Most of the time they are sitting right next to us and even holing up our hands and give the biggest Amen. Thanks for such an on time message!!!!!!!

Chet Gladkowski

commented on May 18, 2012

I "preach" in response to God's love and to obey His call. He has given me a passion to share God's nature and call to repentance with everyone, not just on Sunday mornings. For me, not to is disobedience.

Pollie Marabe

commented on May 19, 2012

Preacher must be called by God and sent by God! A real Preacher of God preach not by what he can receive but what God sent him to preach. Most preacher today preach because they have the means and receive financially from their constituents... "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10:14-15) The test of a preacher is when he is still preaching when others say to him stop preaching! Preaching is not a profession or individual choice one makes. When you are in a place where you cannot preach, but still you are preaching, that is a sure sign you are a preacher call by God! "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." (2Tim. 4:1-5) .

Andrew Shields

commented on May 21, 2012

Pollie, what an extreme overstatement to say that most preachers do so because they are financially secure. That is an assault to every underpaid and bivocational pastor and the those whose families are forced to be a two income family. Get of your overgeneralizing high horse and the recognize that a one level we are called to preach and at another we choose to respond to that call.

Andrew Shields

commented on May 21, 2012

Pollie, what an extreme overstatement to say that most preachers do so because they are financially secure. That is an assault to every underpaid and bivocational pastor and the those whose families are forced to be a two income family. Get of your overgeneralizing high horse and the recognize that a one level we are called to preach and at another we choose to respond to that call.

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