Friday, 25 October 2013

The Cause Of The Downward Spiral In Preaching

Dr C. A. Criswell says, "Preaching is increasingly looked upon disparagingly; they
(ie, church members) just 'put up with it.' "What has caused this situation to develop?

Criswell thinks that the preacher himself has caused it.  Instead of preaching the Gospel, instead of expounding the Word, instead of saying, 'Thus saith the Lord,' the preacher began preaching psychology, and sociology, economic and civic amelioration. The time was when preachers proclaimed the Gospel; but now they preach sociological life situation sermons that have left the church anaemic. 

Criswell sees the training of preachers in modern seminaries as being at fault in this very thing. I fear that within evangelical circles, there has been a serious move away from the systematic exposition of whole chunks of the Bible, and preachers have adopted a method of textual preaching instead. Now I would be the last to deny that such methodology has been greatly used of God in the past. One just has to mention the name of C. H. Spurgeon to prove the point. Yet I think that the practice of Spurgeon has had a detrimental effect upon the pulpits of the Church, as men have tried to emulate the Prince of Preachers, and have failed. Textual preaching, coupled with the desire to draw the crowds, has enticed men to reduce to a respectable minimum the Biblical and doctrinal content of their sermons, and have compromised their whole ministries thereby. Thus preaching has been degraded by preachers!

It is true that textual sermons can and must be expository. But very often, all you have is a few pious thoughts on some of the words of the text instead of grappling with what the text in its context is actually saying. This has given the clear impression that preaching is something that anyone can do. That's why "anyones" are doing it! And the inevitable result? Preaching has been disparaged in the modern mind.

And worse; church attendees cannot now concentrate long enough to benefit from sustained expository preaching. So the preacher is timed to a 15 minutes sermon, and a 60 minute service. The whole thing has become devalued. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Preaching - The Major Issue In Ministry

Preaching must be THE issue for the minister. 

"The whole basis of our spiritual life and our church life is that we respond to what God has done. The essence of preaching is the proclamation of what God has done; therefore if we are to have experience with God, both individually and corporately, it is going to be the basis of responding to the knowledge of what God has done, which in one form or another, must come from proclamation. Preaching is, therefore, fundamental in the church life and therefore should have a high priority in the life of the pastor," Dr S. Briscoe. 

All of the spiritual life is simply a response to God, who has revealed Himself through His Word and through His messenger, the preacher.

Therefore proclamation is of vital importance and an essential ingredient in the worship of God. Praising God and preaching His Word are essential to true worship. Through God-owned preaching, sinners and saints alike meet with the living God. In the 
Word, believer's experience fellowship with their Lord and with each other. Take away the proclaimed Word, and little else remains. The Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God states,

Preaching of the Word, being the power of God unto salvation, and one of the greatest and most excellent works belonging to the ministry of the gospel, should be so performed, that the workman need not be ashamed, but may save himself, and those that hear him.

In the Presbyterian Church, the sermon is the climax of our church's worship services. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Preaching Is Not A Profession.

"Preaching is not a profession; it is an obsession, and a passion. And if it isn't, a man should not preach," says Dr Leonard Ravenhill. It is the key to any church and to any pastorate. Where the preaching fails, all else fails; but where the preaching is raised to its proper place and priority in the mind of both minister and congregation, everything else is raised thereby. It is the central aspect of the church's life and mission. 

Minister's must never think of preaching as a mere adjunct,a duty that has to be performed, a part of their professional responsibility. It should be their very life, their obsession, their passion. To preach the Gospel should be the one thing they live to do above all else! He must burn to do it week in and week out. He must preach, or his heart will burst. Jeremiah speaks with deep feeling when he talks about God's Word in his heart like a burning fire, shut up in his bones, (Jer.20:9). He says that he is weary of holding it in, indeed he cannot! He must preach the Word, or burn up. His burning prophetic vocation compelled him to testify concerning covenant spirituality, despite all opposition from his beloved fellow countrymen, (R. K. Harrison, Jeremiah, Tyndale Press, 1973:113). Jeremiah did not regard himself as a professional prophet. To him, preaching was a categorical imperative. He must preach or die! His attempts not to do so merely wearied him out.

The true preacher knows that his work is an obsession and a passion; with Paul he can say, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel," (1Cor.9:16).