Yesterday we pondered a pair of possible reasons for a perished passion to preach. Focusing on God, our abiding in Christ and in His Word, is very important. Yet preaching is about the link forged between God and our world. Perhaps the passion is drained by a loss of vision for the recipients of the ministry?
Passion for the Church – Do you see no hope of change or progress in your church? At its core, biblical preaching in the local church context is about seeing God at work transforming lives and the church community as you speak for Him. When the hope fades due to apparent ecclesial entrenchment, so will your passion to truly preach engagingly and relevantly in the church. Sometimes this is about leadership structures, sometimes about power-figures with personal agenda, sometimes it can feel like church-wide malaise with a commitment to concrete boots when it comes to moving forward (and it can feel like drowning is the only option). The local church environment can be a brutal place to do ministry, but it is God’s primary plan. Perhaps your eyes have shifted from the One who promised to build His church to the ones apparently committed to thwarting that mission in your context. Eyes on the Lord!
Passion for the Community – Have you lost the sense that your church can reach its community? At its core, biblical preaching in the local church context is about seeing God’s spreading goodness reach beyond the gathering of believers to the community in which God has placed you. But in an increasingly hostile environment , where the church seems to be increasingly marginalised by society, it is easy to lose hope of impact. While I would encourage churches to make their evangelistic and caring ministries as connecting and relevant as possible (why offend people with religiosity instead of the gospel?), at the same time we need to remember that God both chooses and uses the weak things in the world to shame the wise. Maybe He will even use your church, in all its weakness. The key is that He is the one to use it . . . so eyes on the Lord, again!
Passion for the World – Have you settled into such a local vision that you’ve lost your global impact dreams? At its core, Christianity has a global agenda. But failure within the church and in the local community means that many churches have all but given up on any sense of global vision. If someone from the church swims upstream with a commitment to global missions, great, but we’ll probably do all we can to slow them down and get in their way first. If they make it to the field, then we will feel satisfied that we have a global ministry. Perhaps we need to dare to dream a bit more, a bit bigger, a bit further . . . which only happens if we are engaged with a global missionary God who Himself has a passion for the whole world.
So we’ve looked at God yesterday, and His passion for ministry today . . . there are many more avenues to pursue in each of these categories (feel free to do so in the comments).