Heard Any Memorable Preaching This Week?
One morning in Sunday School shortly after a particularly memorable preaching message, a praise report arose favoring the pastor of that particular church assembly. Several long-time church members offered comments of agreement, and then one attendee, new to the church by around six months, made this profound statement:
“It’s been many years since I attended a church where the pastor presented messages with sticking power. I’m thankful for finding a place where I can remember what is taught and find myself applying it to my life well into the days and weeks that follow the preaching. I like the flash, but without sound teachings, there’s no place for Christian growth.”
As my spirit connected with the man’s words, I thought, if it is not too trite to say it, “That will preach.”
Five Words With Understanding: The Essence of Memorable Preaching
In 1 Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul talks about the value of speaking via revelation, knowledge, prophecy and doctrine. He talks also about unfruitful worship services wherein men speak and sing without bringing forth understanding and enlightenment. In verse nineteen, he says that it is better in church to speak five words with understanding than to speak ten thousand words without understanding.
Now we know that the words of Paul address the carnal nature of the church in Corinth, but we tend to think this problem is limited to people speaking in tongues and exalting themselves via self-identification rather than those who linger in a moment of praise and worship that never opens into a message. However, in fullness, Paul is also revealing the uselessness of endless services wherein the Spirit “breaks out” and the people dance and shout and seek help but the help is limited to an emotional experience that doesn’t even last until the end of the day. Sunday night service becomes a mere mirror of the [/ezcol_2third_end] Sunday morning service, and the same seekers come forward yet again looking eternally for that ever-so-elusive spiritual help that was proclaimed alive on that very Sunday morning. It is a cycle that cannot end until mature teaching becomes a part of the service.
The problem is simple: The church hears not any lasting words of power. The ones in pain are never taken aside into a quiet place wherein sound counsel from the word of God can bring forth true healing. Thus they experience an emotional fix that purposes no renewing of the mind and heart.
Ah, but some would say that it is all about praise and worship. Yet without sound teaching there can be no spiritual maturity and without spiritual maturity, the people die. Without a strengthening of the mind, praise tends to remain forever a sacrifice that lacks functional spiritual authority. It becomes a beginning without a middle or an end. It lacks lasting power. When a worship service lacks sound spiritual teachings, that service has no biblical balance.
It’s a situation where emotion rules and the Spirit never brings the voice of order, spiritual growth, spiritual enlightenment or transforming change via the renewing of the mind. It’s a carnal environment wherein men inevitably end up exalting self. The growth of obedience is replaced with the sacrifice of song, and the church body never enters into a place wherein is issued the call for greater Christian maturity. It’s a place where spiritual malpractice dominates every service. Without memorable preaching, Christians often fail to mature. And in the end result, they trust the teacher, the music and their own praise more than they trust the God in whom they seek to worship. Balance. Honoring God demands spiritual balance.
Verse 26, pictures the entire focus of the carnal church:“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying,” (1-Cor 14:26).
Sadly, it seems that many modern churches are captured into this carnal nature and ever blinded to the emptiness of it. In verse 33 of 1-Cor, Paul writes, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
In 1 Samuel 15, the Spirit reveals the story of Saul, a great victory for the people and the sacrifice that followed. But in verse 22, Samuel says, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Likewise in Hosea 6:6, the Spirit says, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
We must be careful that our praise and worship is not about the people, for the people and by the people. Else it may ring loud with the sounds of verbal sacrifice, while yet reeking with the evidence of spiritual malpractice. The “knowledge of God” is far better than burnt offerings.
Failure to recognize these shortcomings mark evidence of:
- Spiritual malpractice among church leaders
- Immaturity in the leaders and the church members
- Redundant messages
- Poor hearing
- A lack of growth
- AND a stagnant church that will slowly implode upon itself.
What Makes a Memorable Preaching Message?
In Luke chapter 2, the shepherds journeyed to Bethlehem. Upon arrival, they hastened to find Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And they made known the things they had seen and heard concerning the child. Those who heard the message wondered at what had been said. But concerning Mary, the scriptures say, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,” (Luke 2:19).
Herein we see the power of memorable preaching. It teaches sound doctrine that awakens the mind and the heart. It brings forth a desire to know more about God and his purposes in our life and the ways of the world. It promotes greater Christian growth. Yea it increases our faith.
When was the last time you heard a heard a message worth remembering? When was the last time you preached a message worth hearing and remembering?
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine,” (2 Timothy 4:1,2).