Where Do You Preach From?

Have you ever got the sense that the preacher is preaching from a couple of feet behind where their body is located?  Perhaps there’s a better way to put this, but I’m struggling to think of how to do so.  What I mean is that sense that the preacher is speaking the words, but somehow, behind the speaking there is a gap.  It’s a gap from heart to mouth, a gap from personality to mouth.  It’s as if the preacher’s mouth is being held at arms length from the core of who the preacher is.  Somehow the preacher is not giving fully of themselves, but seem rather to be holding something back.  Why might a preacher come across this way?

1. The message may not be fresh and overflowing.  When a message is old and hasn’t been worked to the point of dynamic freshness, the preacher may stumble through, overly relying on notes, fumbling for words, lacking heart and enthusiasm.  It may not be the preacher’s fault, necessarily, but the best preaching comes not from having good notes, or just from good content, but also from being “prayed full” to overflowing with the message God has given.

2. The message may not be truly owned.  Perhaps the preacher started preparing too late and so the message hasn’t penetrated the spiritual fibre of their character.  Perhaps the preacher remains unconvinced, or even resistant to the full implications of the text.  Maybe the preacher has plagiarized the message and hasn’t genuinely worked it through until it is fully owned.  The preaching event is not just the message, it is about the message through the messenger.

3. The preacher may be spiritually or emotionally distracted.  Everybody has an off day, maybe this is the case.  We shouldn’t judge too harshly without knowing the facts.  Equally, God sometimes comes through in power when the preacher is at the lowest ebb.

I don’t want to go too long, so I’ll finish the list next time.  Love to hear your thoughts on this . . .

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4 thoughts on “Where Do You Preach From?

  1. Great question, Where do we preach from? I don’t remember where but lately I read that preaching was as close as we as men can come to giving birth. I thought that this was a good description of what takes place in the dynamics of preaching. There is the conception as the “seed” of the Word of God is implanted by the power of the Spirit. Then the gestation period as the Holy Spirit works within me and forms the message. Then there is the birthing process that is almost like birth pangs and as it is come to full term the message must be delivered. And then often even the post-partem blues depending upon how the child was formed.
    I was thinking about where I am going to preach from this week. From deep in my own “bowels of affection” where my whole body has been affected by the forming of this baby.
    My hope and prayer is that it will look like its Heavenly Father.

  2. I had a couple of other thoughts on this. My wife and I have four children and while it was a hardship for her to carry the child to full term, she found it a privilege to have my children even though she suffered with the carrying and the bearing of them. There was not a time in that whole process where she was not deeply and intimately involved in forming our children. It is amazing to see that all four of them have characteristics from both of us. Preaching is such a privilege!!! We have the privilege of bringing to others the life giving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  3. “Perhaps the preacher started preparing too late and so the message hasn’t penetrated the spiritual fibre of their character.” – I think this would be a very common mistake preachers make – one that I make. I know in my own preparation it takes me a long time to put a message together. The time varies. But I know that when I “own” the message, or it is clear to me, then I am convinced that it will help the people and the communication of it in the pulpit is far better.

  4. Peter, do you have any solutions for #3, distraction? A few weeks ago I preached a message. I was prepared, everything was ready, and the night before, a dear friend and church member almost passed away, and was still critically ill.

    My sermon wasn’t really related to what was on my heart and the heart of everyone else. I wondered if I should have just set it aside, but there was no time to even really think about something else to preach. I could have just spoken without notes/preparation about trials, etc.


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