Within this blog post, I want to share with you some of my Christian ministry life lessons. Perhaps they’re not for you, but maybe you know someone who could benefit from them. Maybe they will be so obvious that you’ll think of me as a simpleton. But knowing that everyone is in different seasons of growth and development, I am prompted to share what has worked for me and what I continue to work toward.
The disclaimer goes something like this. I’m not saying that my ways are the best ways or the only ways. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually violated some or all of these at various times during my spoken ministry and still, God has mercifully and graciously used me to exalt the Savior and edify His Church. There’s no perfection present in this preacher. Therefore, I’m not attempting to pontificate as a know-it-all that annoys his peers. In as humble fashion as I know how, I simply want to help others along in their ministry journey. So, by faith let me share with a dozen developmental tips for ministers.
1. If you want a powerful pulpit time, do your homework. Power in public preaching is genuinely present for those who pray and study in private. Preaching is harder work than your favorite preacher makes it look. There’s much more to it than the emotional high of releasing the message you’ve been burdened with.
2. Take your notes with you to the pulpit, but know them well enough that you are not fastened to them for the entire sermon. It’s best to have them with you because your mind can play silly tricks on you. Look at the congregation you are speaking to and make eye contact with them. They are the reason you are there.
3. Start slowly with your sermon. Announce the passage you’re reading at least two times. Give the congregation time to find where you’re reading from, (if it’s not already presented by media projection). Everyone in the congregation does not know the Bible as well as you do. So announce a third time where you are reading from. Explain the location such as, “this is found in the New Testament” or “this is the second book of the Old Testament.” Your goal is not to impress them with your knowledge, but to indirectly help your congregation learn their Bibles.
4. Read your primary text aloud with emphasis. The Word of God is living and powerful. Don’t read it as though it were dead, or like any other book. Practice it ahead of time and learn to pronounce the Word you seek to preach. Get this right and the Spirit will do more than we can comprehend. He has already anointed your study and preparation with a message for that pulpit time. But when you read the passage aloud correctly, He will speak volumes of messages to individuals that you might never learn about. His Word is His chief tool to bring about the change you desire to see.
5. Admittedly, some of the best messages I’ve heard and personally preached were a combination of textual and topical. However, it is never wise to use the Scripture passage you’ve read aloud as only a place to get started. Preach the Word! The text must be more than a launching pad to which you never return. Preach the Word!
6. The best possible way to obey the “be instant” mandate of Second Timothy 4:2, is to first follow the “study… to be approved“ imperative of Second Timothy 2:15. The former without the latter will lead us to a form of preaching without His power.
Let me give it a rest for now with this confession. Preaching is the most humbling activity of my life. It is both a privilege and a burden to preach the Gospel and teach the Bible. The act of preaching itself is sometimes joyous and at times it is strenuous. Occasionally, it flows in what appears to be a supernatural manner, like manna from Heaven. Then, there are those times when I have been in the pulpit and feel as though I am struggling to speak two complete sentences. However, I wouldn’t trade this calling for anything in the world. As a matter of fact, “I’m gonna keep on preaching ’til He comes, ’til He comes…”
About a week from now, I’ll share 6 more practical tips for preachers. Be sure to come back and catch the rest of this developmental dozen. Just maybe, I’ll be able to stop with twelve.