The Daunting Task of Preaching
February 4, 2014
Updated March 15, 2018
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One of my pastoral priorities for this quarter is preaching. Accordingly, I’m reading Cornelius Plantinga Jr.’s, Reading for Preaching (Eerdmans, 2013). I attended the “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching” seminar that he and Scott Hoezee led a couple of years ago in Colorado. What a formative time! And now, as I read his book, it feels that I’m back in the classroom, soaking it all in.
I appreciate the guidance that Rev. Plantinga gives in his book. His message that reading is important to the preacher comes through loud and clear. Good reading makes you wiser and improves your communication skills. So I continue to read. And thanks to Rev. Plantinga, I have a stellar reading list.
And his book is a great place to start! One of the things I really appreciate about Rev. Plantinga is that, although a seasoned preacher, he sympathizes with the young growing preacher, like me. I found the following passage particularly comforting:
The weekly assignment to preach the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ is daunting. Maybe half a million English-language preachers got up to preach this past Sunday, and I would like us to appreciate the hill they climbed.
Where else in North American life today do we find a speaking assignment that is comparable? Where else is a man or woman called forward once a week to address a mixed audience of things of final magnificence?
For starters, the address has to change all the time. A politician can take a stump speech to LA or Miami and customize one minute of it for the local context. Else it's the same speech. Our regular church minister has just the reverse situation: it's the audience that stays the same week after week and the address that needs to change. (p. 65)
This passage got my attention! It gave me some much-needed perspective. I knew preaching was hard! But at least I’m not alone. So fellow preachers, let’s stick together!
And if you’re not a preacher, please know: preaching is hard work. It is one of the most difficult tasks that pastors are called to do. So, please give us the benefit of the doubt. Please encourage us. But most of all, please pray for us and please, please listen to God’s Word proclaimed every Sunday morning with an open heart and mind to receive what is given.
I look forward to growing as a preacher this year, guided by Rev. Plantinga. I look forward to growing this year as a preacher, guided by the Holy Spirit, who wants the gospel of grace to be proclaimed to a world that desperately needs to hear it.
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