Preaching on college mission is a huge privilege and responsibility. Think about it, this may be the one time this year that a person at the church you are going on mission to brings a non christian friend or family member to the event you are speaking at. What a privilege! What a responsibility! What an opportunity!In my experience, mission sermons either go over great or fail miserably. So if you are preaching on mission here are some things I would suggest you do:1. Preach from one of the gospels. The mission sermons that I have seen fail were the ones that were preached from an obscure part of the Bible. These sermons were usually a rehash of a sermon from church or a sermon based exegetical essay the person had just done for college. If you are thinking or saying something like “I think I make this passage/ sermon be evangelistic” you are better off starting again and choose an easy passage where you can preach the gospel easily to a non Christian. Remember you are there to preach the gospel not show how you can preach the gospel from a obscure text and impress everyone.2. Preach the text! If you are preaching from a passage that emphasizes the divinity of Jesus preach about the divinity of Jesus! If the passage talks about Jesus death preach Jesus death! The two mistakes that I have seen here are: 1. Trying to say everything you can about Jesus. You don’t have to say everything about Jesus for it to be evangelistic. Preach Jesus as he is revealed in the text and trust God. 2. Trying to preach an aspect if the gospel that is not clearly in the text. I once heard a guy spend most of the sermon talking about penal substitution from the story of Jesus calming the storm which is a story that is clearly about faith in Jesus who has power over sin and death. Now is it wrong to mention penal substitution when you preach this text? Not at all but we are there to preach what the text emphasizes and leave the rest up to God.3. Know your audience. If you are preaching to blue collar workers you are going to have to preach differently than if you are preaching to a group of uni students. The mission sermons that I have heard that nailed it were ones where the preacher knew who he/she was talking to so well and who worked hard to communicate to them at their level. This is hard work but it is work that is eternally worth it!What would you add to this list?You may also like:
“That was a lazy way to make that point!”
This was one thing an older brother in Christ told me over and over as he critiqued my sermon. But his next comment hit harder.
“Hans, you have potential but if you just rely on your gifts and don’t work hard that potential will be wasted!”
Cutting words but true words. They were spoken to me a few years before I planted Resolved. But what I found when I started Resolved is that I didn’t work on my preaching and prayer like I should have. I was happy to arrogantly rely and rest on my gifts instead of putting the hard work in. This meant that my sermons weren’t as good as they should have been and that I haven’t improved as a preacher as much as I should have. It also meant that my prayer life sucked and I now am working hard to get it back on track.
As a pastor my primary job is to be a man of the word and prayer and so I need to give adequate time to these pursuits. A great sermon doesn’t just happen, it comes about through work and sweat and prayer and reading and thinking and practicing and….well you get my drift.
It is easy when you plant a church to neglect the things that don’t seem urgent like preaching and prayer. But these things are vital if we want churches to grow and flourish.
How are you organising your days and weeks so that you can adequately prepare your sermons and you can spend good time in prayer for yourself, your family, your church and your city?
Let’s not be lazy in these things. Let’s be disciplined!
We kicked off Resolved in 2009 with a sermon on Colossians 1:15-20 and then we preached through the whole book of Luke in almost a year and a half. Yes, you read that right, a year and a half. But in fact it worked. I never had a sermon prep day where I thought “Oh no Luke again!” and nor did I ever hear one complaint about us going through the book of Luke at such a slow clip. But since 2009 we have preached through Galatians, Exodus, Job and Ecclesiastes as well as doing topical series’ on, suffering, defeater beliefs and sex. One of the things I have noticed is that it is very easy for a series to get dry very quickly this is especially so if you are preaching a book like Galatians or Ecclesiastes which seems to be making the same point week after week.
Add to this dilemma I have two convictions about my preaching:
- I want all my sermons to be expository in nature
- I want to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)
There has been much written on the first point but what does it mean to preach the whole counsel of God? Especially when you have different models, you have the Driscoll/Piper/Macarthur method which seems to take books and preach on every verse over a long period and then there are other guys who preach books in a far more rapid pace tackling entire chapters where other brother may just preach on a few verses. Which method is right?
I think I have come to realise that preaching the whole counsel of God is not expositing every verse in the pulpit but preaching the word of God in such a way that it is faithful to the text, the canon of scripture and the Gospel. This does mean I am going to work hard at exegeting the text but this will also mean that I free myself up to preach bigger chunks and to tackle books of the Bible at a faster clip then if I thought I had to exposit every verse. I am thankful to brothers who can preach slowly through books of the Bible I think I have come to realise that is not me. But I am still going to be an expository preacher who preaches the whole counsel of God!
What do you think “preaching the whole counsel of god” means and what does it look like for you to do it?