This week marks two milestones in my life and ministry. Beyond the usual Flag Day celebrations (joke), tomorrow marks my 40th birthday. However, yesterday marked another special day in my life—the 15th anniversary of my first sermon. Some things preachers never forget, and I still remember preaching on that Wednesday evening to a small group of people on the same church campus where I serve as pastor today. My text was Luke 23:26-31. I remember some of my family members coming to hear me preach for the first time, and I also recall that the sermon was much shorter than I preach today.
Over these 15 years of preaching, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about preaching, about people, and about myself. I have made my fair share of mistakes and I’m grateful to the churches I’ve served for their patience and support of me during those early sermons. As I was thinking about my preaching recently—like any other man—I want the skill of my occupation to get better. I want to preach better sermons and I long to become a better communicator of God’s Word. If the Lord allows me to reflect back again on my preaching after another 15 years—I hope I will be a much better preacher on that day.
As I was reflecting on my time in the pulpit ministry of the local church, here are 15 things I’ve learned and things you should know too if you regularly preach the Word or if you want to know how to pray for your pastor.
- Preaching the gospel is a sobering privilege.
- Family is important.
- Time matters.
- Expository preaching is the best method of preaching.
- Prayer and preaching belong together.
- The Holy Spirit is needed in the preparation of a sermon.
- The Holy Spirit is needed in the delivery of a sermon.
- The Holy Spirit is needed after delivering a sermon.
- The goal of preaching is the glory of God—not to glorify the preacher or his stories.
- The gospel is the main thing, and it should be preached in every sermon without allegorical interpretation.
- Not everyone will appreciate serious minded preaching.
- A unified church staff is key to a preacher’s sermon preparation and preaching.
- Preaching is a necessity for the local church and will never be replaced until Christ returns.
- Preaching is not teaching, but preaching will involve teaching.
- I’m daily reminded that my wife has been my best friend, best encourager, and honest support for the past 15 years.
Time and space will not allow me to explain each of these fully here, but think about each one carefully. I’d love to get coffee with you and talk about each one for an hour or more. Perhaps point number nine must be consistently revisited because preaching is not about the messenger—it’s all about God.
1 Corinthians 1:18 — For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.