I received an email from a friend who feels alone in his passion for preaching. Others don’t see preaching as a significant life-changing ministry. Consequently the preaching that results is often content-heavy, but application-light, and regularly communication-ineffective. The tedium of dull preaching continues, or worse, the random ramblings of unprepared preaching. Just this morning I spoke with a couple who have moved into a new area (and country), and the husband has given up translating some of the sermons they’ve heard in churches because they actually made no sense. Not unusual.
Why is true biblical preaching so undervalued by so many? It seems clear that many place no value on preaching, even though they may be preachers themselves, because they have not experienced the power and relevance of effective expository preaching. I look back with gratitude to the stand-out examples I heard as a young man that so marked me, I have never contemplated the idea that expository preaching is worthless. The mark of men like Joseph Stowell who preached at an event I attended years ago is a mark still evident in my own ministry passion. Homiletics is not an elective in the ministry training curriculum, it is really the pinnacle.
So what can we do when others don’t get it? We have to recognize we can’t force conviction into peoples’ hearts. It is something caught, not just taught. We should strive to preach to the very best of our ability and training, hoping in some way to give a small taste of what expository preaching can be like. We should seek to be enthusiastic grace-givers, rather than critical enemies of the pulpit, when others fall short of what we would prefer. We should look for ways to share good preaching and good books with those that preach. There is so much available online now, so perhaps you can find excellence and carefully share it. Perhaps you can even fund a local Bible school so they can add a homiletics expert, rather than having the typical situation where preaching is taught by either a practitioner unsure of how to teach the subject, or an expert in another field who “covers” for the lack of a preaching prof. Ok, maybe funding a Bible School faculty position is a bit much, but we must all do what we can.
Recognize that the value people place on something is a heart issue. It can’t be forced. But it can be contagiously spread. Again, let’s be promoters and examples of true biblical preaching – spiritual, accurate, effective and relevant. What else would you say to someone feeling alone in their commitment to expository preaching?