Beloved in Christ,
The point in my philosophy of ministry I’d like to emphasize this month is the great significance of the preaching of God’s word. Our worship service each Sunday morning is intentionally centered on the means of grace given to us as believers: Word (the reading of the scriptures at different points in the service as well as the sermon), Prayer (our various corporate and individual prayers throughout the service, as well as our hymns, which are a form of sung prayers to God) and Sacrament (our weekly practice of the Lord’s Supper, along with baptisms when appropriate). The preaching of God’s word is considered a real part of the means of grace that God has given us, because in some mysterious way, the word of God preached in the context of the worship of God’s people is actually God’s word.
Listen to how our own Westminster Standards describe the act of preaching: “The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation” (WLC #155). Indeed, another great confession of our tradition (The Second Helvetic) puts it even more bluntly: “The preaching of the word of God is the word of God.” The reality of the Spirit’s promised work in preaching is deeply sobering especially for myself as a preacher, but it should be sobering for all of us—when we hear God’s word preached the Holy Spirit himself promises to speak!
Because of what I believe about the significance of preaching (and what I believe the reformed tradition and the scriptures themselves teach), I am personally committed to preaching that is exegetical and biblical, but is also directed toward the heart. My main goal in in my preaching is not simply intellectual transfer, but to participate with the work of the Spirit by seeking to provoke some kind of new confrontation and glad meeting between each person listening and Jesus as he’s revealed in the scriptures. The sermon is not an academic lecture, but it is not entertainment either. It is, by God’s grace, a Holy Spirit empowered opportunity to be directed in a new and fresh way to the living Christ. I will not always preach perfectly or even well. In fact, I am often most deeply aware of my own frailty and limitations when I preach. But as your pastor, I am committed to the significance and power of preaching and will seek to preach God’s word as faithfully as I am able, trusting that in the preaching of God’s word, Jesus has promised to reveal himself to us. And there is always more of Jesus for us to discover, for he is always beyond us, even as we are transformed more and more into his image, from one degree of glory to another.
Let’s follow him together.