Reading and article by J. S. Park subtitled, “The Difference Between a Speech And a Sermon,” got me thinking of my own experience in hearing sermons.
The “A” List
I have had the privilege of sitting under the preaching of some of the men who would be on many people’s “Who’s Who” list of preachers. They are on the “A” list because they are knowledgeable, talented and have the gift of oratory. They know their Bibles and can tell stories which illustrate the meaning that they want to draw out of the Biblical text. They are good at their craft. They are like high-end chefs who prepare gourmet spiritual meals. These sermons are beautiful, presented well and tasty.
One the other hand, the preachers who have had the most impact upon my spiritual growth are not on this list. These preachers were not flashy, they were not always funny, but they always got to the core of the passage and brought it to me in a way that God could use to break through my nonsense and bring real change. As compared to the “A” list preachers, these presented meat and potatoes. Their sermons were not flashy, not elegant, but very nourishing.
The point of this is not to denigrate the “A” list preachers. They are great at what they do and by their popularity it appears that they help a lot of people. I enjoy listening to sermons presented by these men.
My point is that preaching does not have to be flashy, humorous, witty, or spellbinding to be effective. Switching back to the food analogy, we do not need gourmet food all the time. Basic home cooking serves better in the long run. We need preachers who will faithfully, week after week, bring the word of God to their people. For, it is the Word of God and the Word of God alone that will cause spiritual growth in the hearers (Hebrews 4:12).
Not every man who is called to preach will have the talent and personality to be an “A” list preacher. It is often the case that the preacher with less talent but a greater love of God will produce more lasting fruit.
Preachers, do not feel that you are in competition with the “A” listers. Tune your ear to God’s word and bring it to your people. God will take care of the rest. Your job is to be faithful.
People, do not judge your pastor by comparing him to the preacher on your iPod or on the radio. Judge your pastor on whether he proclaims the truth of Scripture and leads you in fulfilling the two great commands to love God and love your neighbor.
Feel free to leave a comment with a shout-out to a preacher who has had a positive impact on your life.