Preaching Still Matters
I just spent last week at the annual Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta, GA. Well over 1000 ministers from across the denominational spectrum travel from all over North America and even beyond to spend time together. The week brings together some of the top preachers and thinkers in the church today for worship and lectures. The event travels from various locations and will be in Nashville next year. This was my fourth time and each year I am recharged for the year ahead.
I love sitting around talking to all the different Christian faith tribes from all over and sharing together. I am in awe in worship and inspired by powerful preaching. My mind is stretched as I ponder what others are thinking and considering. The opinions vary and it is a very diverse body and yet there is unity and grace. It is better than any denominational meeting because we do not do ‘business’ but rather gather for worship and learning. We don’t worry about the differences and those battles that are waged in denominational settings simply don’t happen.
And as I sit there I am very aware that these ministers spend five days away from family and spend much of their training money to travel and stay in a different city because it is necessary.
Preaching still matters.
It really does. When folks come to our churches they love the music and the fellowship is crucial. But when they gather for the word to be proclaimed they long for something relevant and nourishing to be shared. They hunger for meaning and purpose.
And we who preach are entrusted with that responsibility.
This means Saturday night sermon specials will not cut it. Downloading sermons from a web site is more than theft it is an insult to those who gather. Throwing something together in a hurry is not what they want. They want us to wrestle with the text and to allow the Spirit to work.
Folks are busy. Few of those in the pews come every week. So much is drawing their time and energy and yet they are giving us an hour of their time. That’s a great amount of time in the world today. And they sit and we have a awesome honor and responsibility to share something that will make the rest of the hours matter.
There have been times when I’ve suggested preaching conferences more local for those who can’t afford to travel far away. A few years ago I was talking about this need and a pastor told me that pastors don’t want to go and hear a bunch of preachers preach. If we who preach do not want to hear preaching then why in the world would anyone want to listen to what we have to say?
I’m glad to say that at the Festival I am seeing more and more Baptists attending. I am bumping into more and more ministers from BGAV life. Thanks be to God! I am excited about this. And I know others who go to similar workshops and training and are seeking to be inspired and motivated in their own preaching ministries.
The reality is that when any of us sit down with a search committee one of the first things they ask us about is our preaching. In fact I am always asked for my resume and a recording of a recent sermon. The folks in the pew care about preaching.
We better care too.