We listen to it every week, for many of us twice per week, some also listen to it on the internet. But what exactly is preaching?
Preaching is not a talk even though it obviously involves the communication of ideas through speech. Talking however can be informal; candid; unauthoritative; inconsequential; dialogical. The word “preach” means to herald; a preacher is like a public crier making known the news of the day. He stands before a congregation delivering a message on behalf of God. This is not to say that he must yell and thump the pulpit in order to authenticate his message, but it does mean that he is doing more than talking.
Preaching is not a lecture. A lecture is concerned only with the facts about a particular subject. While preaching is certainly factual it goes beyond the facts. In a seminary setting facts will be presented about the life of Moses in a purely objective way – dates, places, people and events. At the end of the presentation a lecture has been delivered not a sermon.
What then are the components that make preaching, preaching?
• Preaching is revelatory: when faithfully undertaken it is the means through which God makes known Himself and His purposes through His Word.
• Preaching is applicative: it is concerned with how truth applies to us. The preacher is fundamentally interested in what God wants us to believe and how we are to respond.
• Preaching is prophetic: by this I mean it has something to say to contemporary situations. It speaks to us in personal ways addressing our sins, the decisions we face, the needs we have, etc.
• Preaching is spiritual. The Holy Spirit works through the message in order to effect change. Preaching is the principle means God uses to mold us and transform us into the image of His Son.
• Preaching is imploring. A preacher is burdened for his hearers and he is burdened for the glory of God. He is not merely passing on information but impressing upon people truths of great consequence.
Pray for those who preach and pray for those who listen. Preaching is serious business, as is listening. 1 Cor 1:21, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”