Continuing (and clarifying) the conversation begun by last night’s blog…I am by no means saying that church attendance is a bad thing (or not necessary to one’s Christian life). All I am proposing is that the church must flow out of the mission rather than the mission flow out of the church. For example, preaching should never be an ends to itself – but rather a means to an end. The message should be communicated with the conviction and intent that the Scripture is alive and active – that the Bible changes us in order to bring about change in others. Preaching, like anything else in life, should flow out of God’s mission.
I was reminded by this as I visited a church on vacation. The pastor, Dr. David Martin, asked the question, “Why do we preach?” What is our greatest motivation and focus in sharing a sermon? Facilitating a Bible study? Reading our daily devotions? Is it for the money? The ego? The entertainment? The influence?
The Apostle Paul writes, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5, ESV). Hearing the word – an active listening – should bring about a pure heart, a good conscious, a sincere faith, and ultimately result in love. The Word aligns our hearts with God’s heart. We love what he loves. Our heart breaks for what his heart breaks for. We know what is right and what is wrong based on his rule reign rather than our wants and needs. We do what he does. We don’t do what he doesn’t do.
My preference in sermon series is to go the textual route rather than the topical one. Going through a book of the Bible forces us to read and respond to difficult teachings – not just the parts of the Bible that we prefer. There is room for discomfort rather than just another sermon that confirms what we already hold to be near and dear. As communicators, we must also balance the tightrope of placing the text in it’s historical context while still avoiding the temptation of drowning people with a wave of information. We must model how to properly interpret and apply the Bible…and in the words of Andy Stanley, “communicate for a change.” This is yet another reason I prefer the “one-point message” format…keeping the main thing the main thing (communicating the key idea in multiple ways).
Dr. Martin suggested, “We don’t go through the Word. We allow the Word to go through us.”