Preaching may be the most visible ministry in the church, but it is certainly not the only ministry in the church. How does your preaching relate to the other ministries? Here are some possibilities:
1. Casting Vision – The big church together biblical preaching slot is probably the main time that most people are together during the week. Consequently the leadership functions of the church can be offered in a unique and biblically grounded way during the preaching. If your church divorces leadership from preaching, it will suffer for it. But when a church feels led more by the Bible than by a personality, health can be generated.
2. Creating Atmosphere – Lots of other ministries are massively significant in the life of the church. Small group ministries, age-specific ministries, one-to-one discipleship, mentoring and counseling ministries, evangelism in many forms, etc. But all of these can happen more effectively in the space and atmosphere created by the Sunday preaching of the church.
3. Offering Gratitude – Lots of other ministries can easily go unnoticed. Investing in children in the nursery or children’s programs, one-to-one ministries, practical work – setting up church, maintaining the building, etc. The preaching is a good place to lift up other ministries of the church so that people know the preacher doesn’t buy the hype that can so easily be assumed of the pulpit ministry.
4. Providing Vocabulary – An effective illustration or thought through wording can become vocabulary for the church. Recently I used an illustration of living in our thimble while Jesus has an ocean perspective – there may be some “thimble” conversations going on as a result. Sometimes even just offering permission to start a conversation, for instance, “I may be completely misunderstanding this situation, but the preacher on Sunday encouraged us to use him as an excuse for coming and raising it with each other, so here’s my ‘help me understand you on this little thing’ . . .” Big church preaching can prompt the one-to-one conversations that need to happen in a church community.
5. Building Unity – Churches are filled with humans and humans bring their lifelong saturation in the brine of Fallenness along with them. So people distrust people. Ministries will easily compete with ministries. The preaching is an opportunity for the wise preacher to let God’s Word build unity and trust within a church by offering both vulnerability and vision.
6. Co-Labored Stirring – The preaching can and should co-labor with other ministries. It may be that a sermon unlocks an apparently unresponsive individual, or offers new hope to an apparently committed-to-drift couple, etc. Then it may be another ministry that continues the work toward fruitful life change.
7. Setting Example – Probably this is already covered implicitly, but let’s be overt: the preaching can set the tone for other ministries . . . i.e. submission to the Word, honoring others above ourselves, vulnerability, tenderness, courage, etc. Can the church leadership ask others to minister in a way that the pulpit does not demonstrate?
Preaching is important, but it is not the only ministry of the church. Does your preaching support and strengthen the ministries of the church? Or does it inadvertently undermine and compete?