What are we doing when we preach? What are we aiming for? I suspect most preachers would say we preach to see lives changed for the glory of God, or something similar. I agree. But what are we doing?
Some preachers see themselves essentially as life trainers. They know Christianity brings transformation, they long for their listeners to be changed and they know they have a key role to play. Consequently it is always tempting to take on the responsibility for life change through direct and clear instruction, moral pressure and vocal encouragement, along with the necessary warnings about the dangers of living in other ways. Is this your model of preaching? Are you conformity coaching? If this paragraph describes your ministry then it is time to prayerfully take stock and investigate more intently how Christ changes lives.
Some preachers see themselves essentially as teachers. They believe in a God who has spoken and whose Word is the treasure they share from the pulpit. They know that a life is transformed as the truths of Scripture take root and weed out the rubbish of life lived according to the many words of the world, the flesh and the devil. Are we information investing? We should be, but it should be more than that.
Some preachers know their role is primarily introductory. That is, they know that what brings change is not merely Christianity, nor even Christian teaching, but rather Christ Himself. It is as we look on His glory that we are being transformed. Thus the preacher’s role is more humble than conformity coaching since what is needed is transformation at a far deeper level – something we know we cannot achieve by our instruction, pressure and exhortation. The preacher’s role goes beyond information investing to something much more personal. The preacher’s role is primarily that of match-making . . . let me point you to Jesus and how wonderful He is.
Whatever label you want to use, make sure you understand the difference between conformity coaching, information investing and match-making. The difference can make all the difference in the world.