It seems that every day I am contacted by at least one young preacher who has a question about preaching or working with the church. It serves as a reminder of at least two facts. First, it reminds me of what a great blessing it is to preach and to be associated with preachers. It’s not so much the task of preaching that I love (I’ve never fancied myself as being that adept at it), it’s the opportunity to share with people the unsearchable riches of Christ. It’s about the people and communicating to them the Good News!
Second, it serves as a reminder that I am an older preacher. My first official sermon away from my home congregation was preached at the age of fourteen. From age fifteen it has been a tremendous blessing to preach nearly every Sunday. If my math is correct that is about 38 years now. That doesn’t mean that by any stretch of the imagination that I’ve learned all there is about preaching. Most of what has been learned is because wonderful men of God have been willing to share from their years of wisdom and experience. Much has also been learned from trial and errorJ
When I received a question from a wonderful young preacher today it caused me to think that it might be helpful to share some of the questions and answers periodically with other younger preachers through this blog. We will title the posts, “Questions From a Young Preacher.” So if you have a question you would like to see answered in this forum please feel free to send them my way.
Also, it would always be great to have others comment on the questions. Remember, we are all in this together. We can all learn from each other, young and old. With that introductory materiel, here is today’s question. “When preaching to an audience with life long members and new converts who don't know the Bible well. How can you make the material fresh for everyone in the room?”
STAY FRESH. If we want to communicate effectively to a cross-section of hearers it is vitally important that we know both the Word and the world. There is no substitute for studying the Word of God.
It has been documented that brother Gus Nichols studied the Bible for four hours every morning. Another well known Alabama preacher stated that if brother Nichols needed to study four hours every day, then he needed to study five hour every day, and he did! Some preachers have the idea the Bible is not relevant for our time. Therefore it has to be supplanted and other materials need to take the place of the Bible in our preaching.
We should never forget the Bible is “…living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12) Brothers, the Bible is as relevant today as it has ever been. Keep studying the Word. You will find treasures and insights that are more wonderful than you can imagine. The key is study, study, study!
We also need to know our world. I remember brother Wendell Winkler saying that he read two newspapers every day to keep up with what was going on in our world. The people who attend our worship services live in the real world and would do well to know that world. Our Savior said that His people should live in the world, but not be of the world (John 17:15).
PREACH THE WORD. The Apostle Paul instructed his young protégé’ Timothy that he should, “Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2) Paul stated that this was a solemn charge (2 Timothy 4:1).
The phrase, “in season and out of season,” simply means that we are to preach the Word all the time. The same Word can feed those who are babies in Christ and those who are more mature in Christ. (Hebrews 5:11-14) The type of sermons presented depends largely on the type of audience. Some congregations made up of older more mature Christians and have few visitors. Other churches are composed of younger, less mature Christians and have numerous visitors each week.
It has been my practice through the years to present more basic, fundamental, easier to understand sermons on Sunday morning. We have used Sunday night to present deeper, meatier texts. Regardless of the makeup of the audience, there is no substitute for the Word of God. Only the Word has a transforming power that can save souls (Romans 1:16)
KNOW YOUR TEXT. When you select a series of sermons or a passage to preach make sure you spend an adequate amount of time with that text. We encourage the young men who are a part of our Preacher Training Camp to read the text over and over again. It is helpful to read the text from a number of translations to help get a good feel for what you are studying.
Read parallel passages to see if there is anything helpful. Outline your text and add supporting material. This may include notes from commentaries, articles, illustrations, etc. Somebody told me years ago that the preacher should know his material better than anyone in the audience. That is not always possible, but we need to know it well. Peter tells us that we need to be able to give answers to those who ask us (1 Peter 3:15).
LOVE THE PEOPLE. One of the best ways to make sure that our preaching will connect with a varied audience is to have a great love for the people who hear us preach. Loving the people means we need to know the people as much as possible. It is important to know about their lives, their needs, and their concerns. If people who hear us preach regularly know that we love them they will be more understanding. They will know that it is not always possible to speak to all levels of spiritual levels.
If God’s people know we love them they know we will cover every area of Scripture that needs to be covered. When they see us working with them and weeping with them as Paul did the church at Ephesus they will come to trust that we will proclaim to them, “…the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:20. 31)
In my earlier years of preaching I often wondered if there would be enough material to preach. Now I wonder if there will be enough time to preach all the material. As you grow in your study and as you experience more life you will be able to better know the needs of those who come to hear you preach. Thank you for being involved in the greatest work in the world.
Dear Father in Heaven, we thank You for the young preachers among us. We thank You for their commitment and for their enthusiasm. We pray that You will bless them in every way and that You will help us be a blessing to them. In the Name of Jesus we pray, amen.