An Effective Ministry of Preaching
By Dr. Mark LaRue
President of E3 Global
Fellow of the Stepehn Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
Today’s church is in dire need! She needs some men who are called of God to preach the Bible with passion, power, and purpose. Passion for the person of Jesus Christ; power that comes from the Holy Spirit; and [for] the purpose of growing people into a more mature image of the Savior. The need is great. The time is urgent. Satan has launched an all-out attack on the Bride of Christ, but the preaching of the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God can turn the tide!
In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul speaks of his ministry of preaching. In this text, he lists three important principles that drove his proclamation of the Bible. These principles will enable every preacher to fulfill his calling before God to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) and have an effective ministry of preaching.
We Must Preach About a Person
The Apostle Paul declared, “We proclaim Him” (Colossians 1:28). With these three simple words he was letting us know that his preaching was rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. I was fortunate to have grown up under good, sound preaching. My grandfather was my pastor until I went to college. He modeled expository preaching. I also had the privilege of living in the shadow of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee where Dr. Adrian Rogers pastored for years. There were many occasions for me to sit under his preaching. There is no doubt that Dr. Rogers was a true expositor of the Word of God. These men and others laid a foundation for preaching the Scripture that is unparalleled, but they also taught me that one of the keys to effective preaching is to have a deep passion for Jesus!
Paul had this passion as well. In Philippians 3:7-8, he stated: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” (NAS). Paul’s preaching rang with strong passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is clear to tell us that he “preached Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23 NAS) and “Christ Jesus as Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5 NAS).
Preacher, before you can ever preach a text from the Word of God, you must be sure of your personal relationship and intimate fellowship with the person of Jesus. You cannot talk about Him if you have not developed, in your own life, a deep passion to know Him.
We Must Preach with a Purpose
The purpose of Paul’s preaching ministry is clearly evident in this text: “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28 NAS). The goal was simple: teach the Word of God to every person so that they may grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This should be the goal of every Bible preacher today.
To be sure, the Sunday School (Life Groups, Fellowship Class, or whatever your church calls it) is a vital ministry in the church, but the preaching ministry of the man of God is key to growing strong, healthy believers that look and act like Jesus in today’s world. This is the problem with ministries that put more emphasis on marketing, seeker sensitive services, and fellowship than they do on the preaching of God’s Word. These churches may fill their buildings, but the people have no compass to guide them through the struggles and situations of this life. The result is a society full of spiritual babies who have no means of developing into mature Christians. Sadly, our churches are full of these babies today.
How can we resolve this issue? My opinion is that Expository preaching is the answer. Many believe that Expository preaching is defined simply as preaching through books of the Bible. This is a misconception. Expository preaching by definition is preaching a Scriptural text allowing the theme, structure, and call to action to come from the text itself. I believe that if more men of God would do the work necessary to prepare sermons from a Biblical text where the subject, developing thoughts, and motivating thrust come from the passage, we would see a remarkable difference in the spiritual maturity of our people. And yes, I think that the best way to accomplish this is to preach systematically through books of the Bible.
What is your purpose in preaching? Is it to grow a crowd or show off your oratorical skills? If you want to have an effective preaching ministry that honors God, you will preach with the purpose of raising up believers who are spiritually mature.
We Must Preach with His Power
Perhaps the greatest problem in the pulpit today is the lack of Holy Ghost power. Paul declared that he labored “striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29). This power, Holy Spirit power, is a must for effective preaching!
As I write this last portion of the article I am sitting in the courtyard of Annie’s Lodge in Blantyre, Malawi in Africa. The power has been out for seventeen hours now. This has presented at least two major problems for me: One, I had a very minimal lunch. The kitchen had no way to cook food, so I had to eat what they prepared by open fire (goat stew is not bad); two, the hot water in the shower is run by electricity. A cold shower is not my idea of fun.
Sadly, many churches across our denomination and others have lost their power in the pulpit. There is no anointing of God for the purpose of preaching. This lack of power is causing problems among the people: They are not getting good food and they are not being washed by the water of the Word. Sure, the more spiritual people in the congregation are able to eat on their own (as well they should be), but the majority of church goers have relegated Sunday’s sermon to their “big meal” of the week.
Preacher, when was the last time you fell on your face before God and asked Him to anoint you with His power so that you may preach His Word? Dr. Stephen Olford used to pray before he preached, “Anoint me with Your Spirit, Lord, in this strategic hour so that I may preach Your Holy Word in resurrection power!”
Do you want to have an effective ministry of Expository preaching? Then, preach out of the overflow of your passion for Jesus, preach with the purpose of maturing men and women of God into a greater image of Jesus, and do not rely on your own strength or ability, preach in “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).