by John Cannon
I attended a preacher’s funeral several years ago. At age 85, John H. Banister laid down his Bible, and God stilled his voice. He uttered his final “in conclusion.” John had been associated with the Skillman church in Dallas since 1948. He was her preacher for more than twenty years. He made a lasting impact on my life. The last sermon I heard brother Banister preach was on “Heaven.” He planned to go there.
While attending the memorial service of this great preacher, several thoughts struck me. Fellow preachers and church members might want to take note.
Preachers have feet of clay. In spite of the high esteem bestowed upon us, and the high estimation we may have of ourselves, preachers are still human—just mortal men.
A preacher’s life makes as much or more impact on others than does his preaching. Regardless of how many sermons a man may preach, most people will not remember specific sermons by title or text. What they remember is how the preacher lived in their midst.
Preachers come and go, but congregations continue on. Some ministers can stay a lifetime. Others stay for what seems to be a lifetime. Stay or go, churches live on. This is true if the preacher moves or if he dies. It is also true if the preacher has years of tenure and resigns, or if he is fired. Preachers are replaceable—the Kingdom is not.
The truly great preachers are humble servants. The preacher who is out to make a name for himself—will! Great preachers have a deep love for the people they serve. They love the local church with a passion, and they sow the seeds of peace among the brotherhood.
The preacher’s task is to expose the Bible. People need to know the message and the meaning of God’s Word. No one is charged with this responsibility more than the man in the pulpit. Christ-centered, biblical preaching saves souls, edifies the brethren, and builds great churches.
My heroes have always been preachers. Many of my heroes have gone on to be with the Lord. In a day when preaching and preachers have fallen on hard times, those of us who still stand in pulpits from week to week would do well to remember we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.
The solemn charge still stands: “Preach the Word.”
John Cannon preaches for the Walnut Church of Christ in Texarkana, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.