If I followed some of the unsolicited suggestions I received the first few years of preaching in my church, I would be preaching less than 20 minutes, trying to emulate Billy Graham, and standing to preach without notes or preparation time trusting “the Spirit” will tell me what to preach. Anyone who has preached regularly to the same group of people have received some very helpful feedback to help us grow…and some not so helpful feedback that gradually can create this confusion in the heart and mind of what is to be our focus every time we stand to preach. Allow the counsel of John Angell James to advise us and keep us on the right path:
“This is earnestness in preaching: when it is evident to the hearer that the preacher feels the truths he discusses; when it is manifest to all that he believes what he says, in affirming that his hearers are sinking into perdition, and that he is labouring to persuade them to forsake their evil courses.”
As you prepare this week, dear brothers, remember the goal in preaching is earnestness and faithfulness to God’s Word. Not a home run. Not a certain amount of conversions to come from it. Not a certain amount of “great sermon” pats on the back. Not an amazement in you and your skill to craft words and deliver them with charm and wit. Our aim is to preach with an earnestness for and because of Christ, and faithfulness to God’s Word for God’s glory.