Why Do Preachers Preach?
Why Do Preachers Preach?
I can still feel his hand on the top of my head.
Some of the most powerful words ever spoken in my life – the most powerful and defining words of my ministry – were spoken at my ordination as an elder. They are spoken at every elder’s ordination in the United Methodist Church, with the bishop’s hand heavy on the head and these words piercing the heart: “Take thou authority to preach the Word …”
Here are words that govern and guide all our transitions. In a world fighting two pandemics – the COVID-19 outbreak and racism – it has been good to ask ourselves some key questions about the church. We are living through history together and things are changing quickly. What about the sermon?
The Apostle Paul put it like this to the church at Corinth: “An obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). But “how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:13-15).
To preach the gospel is to be “sent.” “As you have sent me into the world,” Jesus prayed, “so I have sent them.” (John 17:18). Communicating the gospel is a “sent” vocation by those who have heard God ask, “Whom shall I send?” and responded, “Here am I. Send me.” In other words, communicating the gospel requires two parties: A God who sends, and a person(s) willing to be sent and spent.
What is God sending me to do? What is the nature of what I do as a “preacher” of the gospel?
When I ask these questions of myself, I was forced to change my image of how I communicate. I don’t write “sermons” anymore for my professors at seminary. I don’t try to be culturally relevant or exegete a Bible passage so that it can better fit the contemporary situation I find myself in. Instead, I choose to see Jesus throughout the Bible. Jesus soaks every page, every story, of both the Old and New Testaments. This realization electrified my ministry.
I no longer preach sermons. I deliver messages.
I am nothing more or less than a messenger. And what is the message I am called by God to deliver? The message of a Savior’s love; the message of salvation full and free; the message of a Creator who’s faithfulness is written in red.
I am nothing more than a deliveryman who is always on the lookout to find new ways to hand people life-and-death messages that they might otherwise cast aside. I am your Heavenly Express Messenger. – Pastor Gary Lewis