As we come to the end of the year, it is a good time to reflect on the glorious burden of a preaching ministry. Our lives and ministries are probably tangled webs of motivations, but it is good to sift through and ask why we do what we do. Here is another angle on the same issue:
5. We preach to build God’s kingdom. There will always be a tension here. Ever since Genesis 3 we have all been deeply infected with the death-virus of godlikeness. We will default to independence in any way conceivable (including self-driven ministry), and our flesh will always look to build our own kingdom. But we are called to join Christ in His work of building the church. It is not about our pursuit of godlikeness, but about our humble service for the God we desire to honour and please.
There are so many factors to keep in mind in this pursuit. God often works more slowly than we’d prefer. So we need patience. God can transform people and communities in miraculously short order. So we need to expect great things. God can choose to build his work in ways we don’t expect. So we need to trust in His providence. God can choose to bless the work of others, even in our neighbourhood (after all, the earth is the Lord’s, including your neighbourhood!) So we choose to esteem others. We are not building our own kingdom. We are privileged to participate in building His.
6. We preach to equip others for ministry. No matter how great you may be, you are nowhere near as great as your whole congregation equipped, enthused and launched into ministry. I’m thankful that many churches have grasped that ministry is not wrapped up in a clerical class. God has given gifted people to the church to equip believers for their ministries. I long to see the day when an entire church is so gripped by God, so equipped by God, and so excited by God that they are like an army of effective witnesses, of empowering encouragers, of heartfelt worshippers, spilling out into the rest of the church and the community and the world.
We preach to that end. We don’t preach to look ministerial. We don’t preach to build our own reputation. We preach to serve Him, and we preach to serve them.