Issue #17: Pastor, Keep Preaching the Word
I am convinced that one of the greatest challenges pastors face is the temptation to stop preaching the word. Surprisingly, this temptation will often come from well-meaning church members. Maybe they don’t tell you explicitly to quit preaching Sunday sermons. But they discourage you in terms of its effectiveness either by the things they say or don’t say. Sometimes inattention can be worse than a sharp word. Perhaps people are pressuring you to preach shorter sermons, incorporate testimonies or more engage in more of a dialogue than a monologue. Sometimes they will want to squeeze in other service elements and reduce the prominence the sermon once had in Sunday worship.
Maybe you have felt these pressures and you’re thinking about caving. Let me encourage you, pastor. Don’t do it. Keep preaching the word. The sermon should be the centerpiece of Sunday worship because that is when people hear from God. Inasmuch as you exposit the word of God, God’s people are hearing from God Himself. Don’t let the people determine how you preach or what you preach. That’s between you and God, and He’s already told you what to do, hasn’t He?
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2nd Timothy 4:1-5).
Paul gives the strongest charge possible to preface his command (V.1). I can’t imagine this could be any more serious for the apostle. As his ministry (and life) are about to end, and he’s preparing to pass the torch of responsibility to his protégé, what does he demand young Timothy do? Preach the word of God. “Timothy, even if everything else in your ministry fails, you can’t let this one thing fail. You must preach the word.” Pastor, that should be an encouragement to you. Your outreach ministry might not bear the fruit you desire. Your discipleship groups may be weak. New people might not be coming through the doors at a rapid pace. Much of that is out of your control. But this is one thing you can control. Preach the word. Preach excellent sermons. Study diligently. Prepare well. Never stop preaching.
Not even when people come to you with “itching ears.” Remember, these are church members. A lot of times, they mean well. But the sheep can’t tell the shepherd what food to serve. A child doesn’t create the menu for the family. That job belongs to the parent. Otherwise, children would eat chocolate and candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Brother, pastor, serve good food to your sheep. Because, after all, they’re not your sheep. They belong to Christ.
Let His words ring in your ear this week as you prepare for Easter and beyond.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17).
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