Why Preaching is Important

Why Preaching is Important

A kid tugged at his mother’s skirt and said, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a preacher.” She was surprised, and replied, “Darling, what made you decide that?” He said, “I’d rather stand up and yell at everybody than have to sit down and listen to it!”

The question is floated from time to time whether preaching is worth it anymore. People would rather not come to worship to be lectured, or even be instructed. Perhaps if we could just have our lives affirmed it wouldn’t be so bad. Some are reducing the sermon to an aww- shucks illustration, or life-coaching session, or eliminating it altogether in favor of more entertaining aspects of worship. Why should we in this congregation remain devoted to preaching and teaching in worship?

Preaching is Worship. Let us first remember that listening to the word of God is a form of worship. There is praying, there is singing, there is the Lord’s Supper and the offering. But there is also teaching. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Because the Bible is God’s revealed truth, studying it is an act of devotion to the divine Author of the Bible. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered to break bread, Paul ... prolonged his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7). “Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).

Preaching is not a passive spectator sport. It requires participation to get the most out of it. Follow along in the Bible and take notes. Make application to your life and home.

Preaching Takes Diligence. Preachers need to be busy. If presenting false teaching is the greatest crime, making the gospel boring must be the second greatest. Jesus Christ is the most important and beautiful theme in the world, and the story of the Bible is the most exciting and meaningful topic. It deserves and demands effort. There’s no excuse for winging it. There’s no excuse for getting bogged down in a twenty-part series on some minor hobbyhorse. Preachers ought to give their best effort every time. “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them ... pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching” (1 Timothy 4:15-16). “The large crowd enjoyed listening to [Jesus]” (Mark 12:37).

Preaching is Needed. Though people loved listening to Jesus, that’s not because their ears were being petted. Jesus’ teaching was challenging, but it was meaningful and practical. Preaching is designed to bring hope and comfort to those who need it, but rebuke and correction to those who need it. “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). “When you received the word of God ... you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

This is not to suggest that we are goin

go to worship every Sunday. “I’ve gone for thirty years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like three thousand sermons, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and all the preachers are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.” This started a real controversy in the Letters to the Editor column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this reply: “I’ve been married for thirty years now. In that time my wife has cooked me some 32,000 meals, but, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today.”

Preaching is Important Even for a Deaf World. When church buildings are sparsely populated, we may get discouraged. Preaching is still important! God told Jeremiah, “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you” (Jer. 7:27). He gave it a mighty go, but he made little impact. Jeremiah was slapped in the face, thrown into dungeons and pits, starved, ridiculed, accused of treason. Few responded to his call.

Jeremiah wasn’t wasting his time. God’s word must be spoken even if no one is obeying it, because it will serve to harden their hearts, take away their excuses, and condemn them on judgment day (John 12:42). God’s word never returns without accomplishing its work (Isaiah 55:11). Besides, even in a lost generation and a degraded society, maybe a few can be saved (Jer. 26:3, 36:3). There were a handful who listened to Jeremiah, including the Rechabites (35:18), Ebed-Melech (39:16), and almost King Zedekiah (37:17). The Gentiles heard of God’s great deeds (40:2-4). The faithful remnant maintained their sense of outrage at idolatry and looked forward to a blessed future.

–John Guzzetta

g to remember every sermon. Years ago, a churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and complained that it made no sense to