This evening I have the privilege of speaking at the 80th Anniversary celebration of a church in Surrey. As preachers it is tempting to think that the next message we preach is the only one that matters. But a chance to look back with friends at God’s work over eighty years will be a great chance to celebrate the long-term impact of God’s Word.
The building work of preaching – week after week, the Word of God faithfully preached to a gathering of believers will shape them. This could be in a good direction or not, which is why it is so vital that we watch carefully the diet that the flock are being fed. One poor message here and there may not produce tangible trouble, but diet does matter. I am convinced that if the churches in this country received a steady diet of just plain well-handled Bible sermons – nothing spectacular, just plain, accurate, faithful and lovingly served biblical truth, then the church would be in a very healthy place!
The shaking work of preaching – some messages, or series, will shake a church. This is good. Just as our personal reading should shake up our theological convictions and how we live, so the Word should shake a church. Some preachers want to create a visible shake every week, which may not prove so sustainable or helpful in the long-haul. But looking back over the years, I suspect healthy churches can see seasons where God’s Word brought about change (usually with discomfort and tension in the process).
The cumulative work of preaching – the steady weeks and the firework weeks, the series that seemed to hit home, and those that passed by, interspersed with the messages that brought instant fruit, and perhaps a few that brought critical feedback . . . over time the diet of God’s Word does something to people, to a church, to a community.
Your sermon this Sunday may not be the talking point of this Monday, but it is part of the history of your church being written over the decades. Preach the Word.
Next Week: Pursuing Profound Preaching