Preaching Articles

We live in a world of ambiguity. It seems that because of the changing times and climate in our nation, we who are called to preach the Word are afraid to speak the truth. We are worried about offending the “powers that be” or the deacons or the elders. We are afraid we might say too much when, in fact, we often say too little.

While preaching seems to be outdated and cast aside in favor of communicating, I think preaching is only biblical if it is communicating truth. Where the Bible speaks specifically, we cannot be vague. I realize it’s vogue to be vague, but it’s not a historical understanding of preaching. My mentor, Vance Havner, said, “The task of the preacher is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” As the old Scottish farmer said when he heard a noise outside his house one night, “I would not harm thee for the world, but I am about to shoot where thou standeth.” As a preacher of truth, you aren’t called to coddle the saints; you are called to challenge them to godly living.

Paul named specific sins in the churches and even named the church gossips in Philippi. He pointed out a leader (Demas) who had forsaken him. This same apostle who wrote 1 Corinthians 13 on love also wrote words of rebuke and correction.

We endanger the call, art, and gift of preaching when we make it about style instead of substance. Everyone has their own style. Some use more illustrations than others. Some prefer exposition to topical. Some use topical preaching but center the topics on specific texts. What we can’t do is try to be cute and current and lose our cutting edge. “The Word is quick and powerful and sharper than a two edged sword...” If that is true, then we don’t need to preach with a spoon, we need to preach with a knife.

Some preaching has devolved into trying to be sexy. We use sexy titles, but in the end the sermon has little appeal that will change the course of a life. It may contain good information, but preaching is about inspiration. We are to inspire people to be saved or to be Christlike in their actions and attitudes. If we fail to inspire and challenge, have we not failed to preach?

Havner noted, “We aren’t called to feed giraffes, we are called to feed sheep.” We are to put the food on the level where the people can understand it. I would also say that well fed sheep will gather consistently to be fed because they know their shepherd is leading them into green pastures and beside still waters. When well fed sheep have a well versed preacher, the sheep have restored souls.

You feed sheep on the ground, meaning you have to know your people and know about life situations if you are going to minister. The sermon preached by a pastor in New York City will not work well if it is simply regurgitated to a congregation in a rural town in the South or out West. James Denney said, “If you shoot over the heads of your congregation, you don’t prove anything except that you don’t know how to shoot.” Michael Buss said, “The job of the preacher is to gather the people in his arms and draw them near to God.”

I asked one of my heroes, Ron Dunn, the greatest expositor I’ve ever met, if I could pastor for a long time in one place. He said, “If you stay fresh, if you stay in the Word and give them the truths you have mined out in your personal study and time with God, you can stay as long as you want.” Well, I’ve been at Sherwood Baptist Church for 23 years, and there is still so much to say. I’ve preached almost every book in the New Testament, but there are new insights I’m gaining from great, rich pockets of truth that I didn’t see twenty years ago.

God has not called preachers to be entertainers or to be boring. We are called to present the greatest story ever told to people who need to hear and believe. Don’t sell preaching short. Don’t grow weary in well doing. Call out people to a deeper commitment. Call on the Holy Spirit to endue your message with power. Call the lost to salvation. Finally, remember when you were first called and the joyful prospect of preaching the Word to people that energized you each day. Go back, reflect on that call, and rekindle the fire that once burned in your heart. You’ve traveled too far to give people leftovers. Take them to the buffet of blessings in the Bible and show them how to feast on God’s Word.

Michael Catt is the Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and the Executive Producer of the films from Sherwood Pictures, including Fireproof and Courageous. Michael is the author of several books including The Power of… series with B&H, Courageous Living, and the newly released Upgrade. Michael and his wife Terri have two grown daughters.

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John E Miller

commented on Jun 5, 2012

This is spot on! If only this article was put into practice in every church fellowship, large or small. We read today of the "unchurched" in the writings of liberal theologians but the Bible speaks of sinners. We hear of so-called preachers and pastors tailoring their messages to the desires of their congregations but the Bible makes it clear that God in His word addresses man's need and answers it by the cross of Christ. Bless you, Michael Catt for reminding the readers and contributors to this forum of the need for bold and fearless presentation of God's truth. THe Deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His atoning death, His resurrection, the present service of God's Spirit to speak of Christ (not of Himself), the rapture of the saints of God, and the second coming to this earth, in power and glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords, these are the core truths that must be urgently presented by all who claim to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. We must seek to attract men and women saved and unsaved to find themselves continually before the Throne of Grace and also warn them of the solemnity and reality of the Great White Throne that will be reserved for Christ rejectors.

Jim Cross

commented on Jun 5, 2012

Amen. Right on target, this article excites me even more about the priviledge and responsibility of sharing God's Word. Thank you for the reminder.

Jim Mains

commented on Jun 5, 2012

Scripture in it's purest form is the most powerful. My words are not as powerful; so the more I stay in God's Word the more powerful my sermons are - not because I am powerful, but because His Word is.

Fred Stroman

commented on Jun 5, 2012

June 5 2012.. The Last paragraph says it all. It does not only go to us that the Lord has called out to preach His word, but the laypeople as well, because the Lord has called us all out to minister to all people. I was asked to resign a church four years ago this coming Sunday. It has been hard these last four years. I have learned some very important ministry tools from this taking place. 1) ask where the former pastor is at. 2) the loss of a job. 3) bankruptcy. 4) depression. The Lord has taught me how to deal with these four aspects in my life and how to help people in their time of need. I do give the praise to Lord to keep me strong and to humble myself before Him at all times no mater what. May the Lord bless all that He calls and uses for His will.

Gregory Smith

commented on Jun 5, 2012

Excellent article and just what I needed to hear from another preacher at this time. It seems every time I turn the TV to one of the so called Christian channels (and this is very rare), all I hear is various forms of the 'prosperity gospel' with a strong emphasis on the financial part, and the rest of the messages are more like motivational talks. Where are the calls to repentance and godly living? If preachers who are called by God to preach the Good News are afraid to call obvious sin...sin from the pulpit, then who will? Certainly the world will not live right on their own unless they are reminded of what God's Word says. In this time we must speak the truth and do it with all the love we can show without compromising the message. Our methods of delivering the truth may change, but the message has always been the same and must stay that way no matter the times in which we live. Thanks again for the encouragement!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 5, 2012

Amen! My life verses are 2 Timothy 4:1-4. It is the preaching of the Word of God that brings sinners to repentance and causes Christians to be transformed.

Mark Baker

commented on Jun 5, 2012

These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord?s instruction. They say to the seers, ?See no more visions!? and to the prophets, ?Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!

Steven Farless

commented on Jun 6, 2012

I agree. my mentor Jesus Christ taught me the same thing :-)

Steven Farless

commented on Jun 6, 2012

I agree. my mentor Jesus Christ taught me the same thing :-)

Rev. Wayne Claxton

commented on Jun 7, 2012

People are worn out from false prophets and their deceitfulness. Let the Church return to its First Love. God is our Shepherd and He will lead us to green pastures. Don't let religious goats tell or show you anything. Bless you Servant Catt for a timely anointed message.

Robin Gates

commented on Jun 9, 2012

Amen brother. It is time to preach for an awakening! The leadership of the Body of Christ must be discerning of the times we are in, accept accountability and responsibility for what we see and call the flocks back to Christ. Compromise, comfort and complacency have become the norm in too many congregations. "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" is the standard of the prophets and the old Saints. Jesus is calling and He wants His bride back. They are hungry for the truth. The truth is what they will come to hear. The awakenings of the past came by Church leadership that recognized the signs of the times and called the flock to alignment with God's Will. God will honor that. The Word of God does not come back void! Praise God! It's time! God bless you Pastor Catt!

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