If you read this, regardless of whether you are a full time preaching minister or not, I hope you realize the importance of the message and apply it immediately.
In September of 2011, I began a new job as the full time preaching minister for the Granny White Church of Christ. I was honored and thrilled to be offered this position. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be a “preaching” minister. I never thought I would be very good at it.
I’ve actually been preaching since I was 14, starting in high school when the Friendship Christian School high school chorus did its annual “Church Tour”. I probably would preach 4 or 5 times each year. I did devotionals during college, but never really had a preaching job. When I did campus ministry at Westbury Christian, I was in charge of chapel and spoke often. While a youth minister, I filled in when necessary.
Finally when I was an Associate Minister in Houston, I was asked to speak 12 Sundays a year. I immediately knew this was more than just filling in – and I got a bit nervous. It had been a long time since my “Prep and Del” class at FHU. I immediately began reading books on preaching, listening to podcasts of preachers, reading sermons and sermon outlines, and began paying closer attention each Sunday when I was not preaching to our senior minister.
When asked to be the full time preacher at Granny White, I was honored. I knew it was a great opportunity for me to serve God and a great congregation. Since I’ve been here, I’ve taken advantage of going to 2 lectureships, and a few seminars.
During the seminars, I learned that a minister should try and memorize his sermons, that a minister never preaches a sermon twice, a minister never borrows or uses someone else’s material, a minister should spend X amount of hours preparing a lesson…the list goes on and on and on.
This got in my head and really shook me up. I was not memorizing my lessons. I was preaching a few things I had already done. I was preaching a couple of sermons that I had re-written and modified. I wasn’t spending “X” amount of hours preparing.
And I started to get nervous, and confused.
But then, I realized something – there is no prescribed way in the NT telling a preacher how to preach. Jesus never says “He who memorizes his sermons will be blessed abundantly.” Paul never says “A good preacher will only preach 17.4 minutes.” Peter never talks about how many hours he spent preparing for his great gospel in Acts. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus said the same thing in different ways many times.
And that’s when it hit me – the best thing I can do – is to be me.
So what if I don’t memorize my sermons. I don’t think anyone is going to give their life to Christ because they are impressed with my memorization skills.
I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with me if I only spend 10 hours one week preparing a sermon instead of 25.
No one at Granny White heard that sermon I preached back in 2001. It wasn’t recorded on tape and I don’t believe anyone was at the same summer camp I was at back then.
I am me. That’s who I was hired to be. And that is who God made me to be. I will do by absolute best to be me.
If I memorize a sermon in the future, great! But if I don’t – it doesn’t make me less of a preacher. If I decide not to wear a tie one Sunday, I think it will be okay. If I only preach for 15 minutes one Sunday, I’ll probably have a whole lot more who are happy about it than upset at me!
The only real requirement I see in preaching is that I preach the truth.
And I will continue to do that to the best of my abilities till God no longer sees fit for me to be doing it anymore.
So for you preachers out there – be you. Don’t try to be the next big thing in preaching. Don’t try to impress your members by doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you. Don’t be fake by doing something you wouldn’t normally do.
Just be you. Do it to the best of your ability. Pray that God will use you and guide you. Don’t feel like you’re not doing a good job just because you don’t preach or teach like the other guys. Just be you – and let God do the rest.