The Four R’s of Preaching
Facing the task of sermon preparation each week can be daunting for any preacher. It can also, over time, become a monotonous burden if we let it. While there are those rare individuals who never lose their fire, and continuously produce God-inspired sermons with never a hiccup, that is not the case with most of us. The sad truth is that some of us fall into a pattern of preaching that might “get the job done,” but somehow lose our purpose in the process.
Some of us need to be reminded of the great calling God has given us and remember the privilege we have to address a group of people each week, no matter the size, who are hungry for a Word from God and are expecting us to deliver it.
Consider the following statement from the great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“The work of preaching is the highest and greatest and most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”
If that declaration is true, and I believe it is, we need to always keep that calling from God at the forefront of our minds and hearts as we prepare to address those under our care each week. To help us do that, I am proposing Four R’s of Preaching that should stand as a reminder and a guide for those of us who are privileged to share God’s Word from the pulpit.
I have noticed a lack of reverence coming from some of our pulpits. Sometimes a preacher will allow the message to be more about him than it is about God. We need to approach the task of preaching with an understanding that we are mere spokespersons for the Great and Mighty Creator of the Universe.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28 (ESV)
While preparing our messages and while preaching them, we must remember Who it is we are doing this for, and make sure that He features prominently in our message. We are not calling people to follow us, but our God and Savior. We must come to the sacred text and to the pulpit with a sense of awe and wonder, as well as with recognition that God is watching every word that we utter.
We are given a great responsibility. God has called us to lead men and women to His Son, Jesus Christ. He has also called us to teach and disciple those who have already accepted His wonderful offer of salvation. This is not something to be taken lightly. When we are preparing our messages we need to always remember to give the time and effort necessary to communicate God’s will clearly.
If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously… – Romans 12:8b (NLT)
The preacher who takes this responsibility seriously will always makes sure to be prepared, to have studied diligently, to have prayed fervently, and to have the needs of the people and God’s solution to those needs at the forefront of every sermon.
If you do not respect the people you are speaking to, not only will they pick up on it, they will turn a deaf ear to everything you have to say. I am well aware that some of the people in the audience might be people who have done you or your family wrong, or given you reasons not to have much respect for them. I get it, I really do!
On the other hand, even if you can’t respect the person, you can respect the message God has given to you and deliver it in a way that is meant to lift people up, rather than bring them down. Consider that those who may have wronged you need this most of all.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10 (ESV)
When you show honor to those in your congregation by showing respect to them, to God, and to His Word, you will have come a long way toward leading others toward spiritual insight and personal growth.
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:27 (ESV)
There are at least two ways we can apply this:
1) There is a great temptation for some preachers to deliver personal rebukes from the pulpit. Rather than confront a person in private, during the sermon they will bring up something this person has done wrong and then go on the attack. They normally won’t mention the person by name, but everyone knows who they are talking about. Don’t do this…EVER! There is nothing wrong with confronting sin from the pulpit, and we are called to do just that, but never, ever, do it in a personal way, or in a way meant to embarrass or demean an individual. If you need to deal with a problem, take the person out to coffee or meet in your office and discuss it one-on-one.
2) To use an old term, some ministers “go everywhere preaching the Gospel” from the pulpit. They have trouble sticking with one subject and go from one topic to the other, never really landing on anything solid. Here is something to remember – when you go into the pulpit, have one point. You might have three steps to this or four reasons for that, but there must be an overarching thought or purpose that you want to get across. Don’t stray from that. You don’t need to preach the whole Bible every week.
This week, as you prepare for the weekend, make sure and remember the Four R’s! It will help you more than you can know, and you will become a better preaching in the process.
I welcome your comments below.
Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.