Summary: Thoughts on preaching
When a person is called to “trial preach”, he has a dilemma. How can he go into a church that he doesn't know in a community that he doesn't know and preach a sermon that is relevant to people he doesn't know? I'm at an advantage here because I live in this community and I'm active in it. I've been in this church and know it's history and I know many of you. But, I've been a pastoral candidate in churches I didn't know. A few years ago I was a candidate at a church just outside Waco, Texas. It had been a while since I preached, so I prepared what I thought was a great sermon. Well, I preached that sermon and it went a little longer than I expected, which concerned me a little. I was standing at the doors of the church after the service to shake hands with the congregants when one of the members of the pulpit committee came up and exulted, “Well preacher, that was an exhilarating and refreshing sermon!” That eased my concerns and I was about to thank him when he added, “Why I felt like a new man when I woke up.” Because the pastor's preaching is the most important factor in the health and growth of a church, you are right in asking your prospective pastor to “trial preach”. But, I ask you, “How do you judge preaching?” I'd like to quote a couple of famous preachers in my own answer to that question.
C.H. Spurgeon “Prince of Preachers”
Paul writes, “Jews demand miraculous signs.” They said, “Moses performed miracles; let us see miracles performed, and then we will believe,” forgetting that all the miracles that Moses did were completely eclipsed by those which Jesus did. Then there were certain Judaizing teachers who, in order to win the Jews, preached circumcision, exalted the Passover, and endeavored to prove that Judaism might still exist side by side with Christianity, and that the old rites might still be practiced by the followers of Christ. So Paul, who was “all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save some,” put his foot down, and said, in effect, “Whatever others may do, we preach Christ crucified; we dare not, we cannot, and we will not alter the great subject matter of our preaching, Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Then he added, “and Greeks look for wisdom.” Corinth was the very eye of Greece, and the Corinthian Greeks sought after what they regarded as wisdom; that is to say, the wisdom of this world, not the wisdom of God, which Paul preached. The Greeks also treasured the memory of the eloquence of Demosthenes and other famous public speakers, and they seemed to think that true wisdom must be proclaimed with the graces of skillful elocution; but Paul writes to these Corinthian Greeks, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith would not be based in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”