Friday, November 28, 2008

Commissioning


So, this weekend is commissioning and the onfire celebrations. This weekend in Melbourne is about celebrating our gifts and then using them for God's glory. Isn't it funny how we've elevated some gifts and not others? Preaching for example (we'll leave Music alone for now although that has to be one of the biggest Christian 'gifts'). But preaching is one of the most over-rated gifts (I think). It is a spectator sport that bears a fraction of the fruit that a relationship does... I mean, name a sermon that changed your life forever.. there are very few that are that impacting. I remember going forward to give my whole life to Jesus at a Sunday night meeting in a Corps in Toronto... I can't even tell you who was preaching or what they preached on. I went forward because of the impact the relationships with other believers had on me... I went forward because of community and service and mercy and compassion and love expressed and prayers/intercession - not because of a sermon. Now, I've heard it said that some officers spend up to 20 hours a week on a sermon. Can I just say that it is possibly the biggest waste of time in terms of fruit from ministry. My greatest fruit has not come from preaching (and I do a lot of it and love it - don't get me wrong!)... but when I've walked alongside people and showed them and told them about Jesus up close and personal... that's the stuff of the Kingdom.
In Acts. the only time they preach is to unbelievers... when did we make preaching about speaking to the body of christ... wierd.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Are you using your gifts for God's glory?
D

1 comment:

Bernard said...

Thanks Danielle for your provocative take on preaching. I would make a number of responses as follows if I may:-

1. Firstly, I would ask the question, what is preaching? My answer would be along the lines of it being the passionate, verbal communicating of the living Word of God, by the Spirit of God, in power, to either believers or unbelievers, or both. On that definition, I would see for example, what Paul did in Acts 20v7ff and 20v17ff as preaching, even though it was to believers. Also on that definition, maybe not all that we call ‘preaching’, is actually ‘preaching’.

2. I would agree that it is wrong to elevate any gift above others. However, I would suggest that there might be a certain ordering of gifts in the outworking of God’s purposes. In Mark 1v38, the Lord Jesus emphasised the importance of preaching as a part of His ministry. One of Paul’s last commands to Timothy (2 Tim 4v2) was to, ‘Preach the Word’.

3. Whatever the importance of true preaching, personal contacts and the living out of the Word preached, by the listeners, are vital. Like a 'horse and carriage', or 'love and marriage', they should always go together and not be separated.

4. The fruit of true preaching is not always as evident as in Acts 2. In John 6v66 we read of Jesus’ preaching resulting in a decrease in the number of His disciples.

5. Over the history of the Church there have been many examples of truly gifted and God-used preachers. We could think of John Piper, John Macarthur, Terry Virgo, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Dr W E Sangster, John Stott, Charles Spurgeon, William and Catherine Booth, S L Brengle, and so on. These perhaps were/are the ‘giants’, but there would be many others, both known and unknown.

With respect therefore, I would have to disagree that time spent in preparing to preach is a waste of time … as long as it’s Spirit empowered, passionate preaching of the Word of God, to glorify God, that we are preparing for … and perhaps that’s where something of your challenge lies.

Anyway, I trust you will keep on preaching, and may you and all of us who try to preach, by God’s grace know more of the Spirit’s presence and power in, on and through our preaching – that sinners may be saved, saints sanctified, society salted and all things summed up in Christ Jesus.

Have a good Commissioning weekend … may you be blessed, and God truly glorified.

Bernard.