Preaching is the art of provoking hearts and minds toward Jesus and his kingdom. I believe it’s an art because I’m convinced it’s similar to painting or composing music. You can take a class on painting and learn the basic mechanics of brush strokes, but that’s way different than being Monet. Getting good at preaching takes a lot of practice!
Biblical Foundations for Preaching
One simply needs to read the Old Testament to encounter some of the great preaching of the Bible. The prophets proclaimed to the people of Israel the truths of God in startling fashion. Jesus himself was a great communicator and genius at using parables to provoke the hearts and minds of his listeners. Throughout the Book of Acts, the Apostles and other disciples like Stephen and Phillip were great preachers.
Preaching is extremely important within the life of the Church for at least two reasons:
- Preaching is a means by which people hear the story of God, the teachings and works of Christ, and the invitation to come to King Jesus and his kingdom.
- Preaching is a powerful way to encourage and challenge.
Five Goals of Preaching
When I am studying, collecting ideas, mind-mapping thoughts, and prayerfully working on the sermons I preach, I have a number of goals that are in the back of my mind. I’ve found that they help keep me centered on Jesus as well as serve to keep me from becoming a “hobby horse” preacher who only talks about one thing in every sermon.
These goals also help ensure that I’m able to provoke as many of the hearts and minds as I can. You can’t assume that everyone is going to be engaged in the same way. If you aren’t intentional at attempting to communicate in a way that can engage everyone, you certainly won’t.
Here are my goals:
- Introduce People to Jesus
I want all of my sermons to clearly point people to Jesus and his kingdom. Christian preaching should be for Jesus, about Jesus, and done with Jesus’s presence through his Spirit. I hope that every single person who hears my sermons hears me say, “Life has many complex problems and challenges but I am telling you that Jesus has all of the solutions and ways forward that you need” in some way, shape, and form.
- Glorify Jesus
It might seem obvious, but I hope that after every one of my sermons, Jesus was glorified. As people are to worship in all that they do, most Sunday mornings an aspect of worship that I participate in is preaching. I want Jesus to be lifted up through my words!
- Empower, Equip, Encourage, and Challenge
What I love most about the Holy Spirit’s work through preaching is that God is doing so many things in the congregation simultaneously. Several weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, a number of people sent me texts to let me know what God had been doing during the morning’s message. One person said they received a ton of hope about a situation they were facing and felt like they could trust God. Another said they hadn’t ever really thought about their role in the kingdom and they were challenged. Yet another felt like they could start praying for people and be more present in people’s lives. It’s important that we recognize how God can do a variety of things in the sermon space and that we can design our sermons to accomplish many different “things” in what we say.
- Stir people’s emotions
What preacher doesn’t want people to fall more in love with Jesus through their preaching? And shouldn’t the affections for people also be stirred? Shouldn’t our feelings of repentance and our desires for holiness spring out of hearing of the beauty and majesty of God? Yes!
- Relate to Listener’s Lives
All sermons need to have Scripture. They should also have a proportional amount of illustrations and applications. People need to be able to hear stories about how Scripture can be related to their lives and how they can apply what they are hearing, especially in a world that has an increasingly uninformed understanding of the Bible.
Preaching is a means by which God speaks through women and men about Jesus and the stories of God to both win them and to encourage them. Preaching can be used by God to communicate his presence and his power and point people to Jesus. And that’s what the church is all about!
For practical help with preaching I recommend Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley
For a great survey of the biblical foundations for preaching, I highly recommend Inspired Preaching: A Survey of Preaching Found in the New Testament and Preaching: A Biblical Theology).
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About the Author
Luke Geraty is a pastor-theologian living in Northern California, and he and his wife, Dawn, lead the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family or doing church stuff, he enjoys reading and writing theology, fly fishing, and listening to underground hip hop. He blogs at lukegeraty.com and can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagra
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