Once your church plant has launched a Sunday worship experience, preaching well is essential to growing a healthy church.
John Stott once admitted to being “an impenitent believer in the indispensable necessity of preaching both for evangelism and for the healthy growth of the church.”
At our church, we open the Bible, take the main point of a biblical text, make it the main point of a sermon, and apply it to life today with as much enthusiasm and energy that God’s Spirit provides. According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.” We are committed to sound, biblical doctrine; we are determined to preach the whole Bible without apology or compromise, and we do it with joy.
D.A. Carson said, “Our aim as preachers is not to be the most erudite scholar of the age. Our aim is not to titillate and amuse. Our aim is not to build a big church,” writes Carson. “Our aim is to take the sacred text, explain what it means, tie it to other scriptures so people can see the whole a little better, and apply it to life so it bites and heals, instructs and edifies.”
This applies to every pulpit in every church, including the newest church plants. Good church plants that seek to honor God require good preaching for at least five reasons.
1. Good preaching glorifies God.
That’s obvious, right? Nothing trumps this. God is the goal and the ground and the purpose of all biblical preaching.
“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Ps. 86:9).
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
We preach to glorify Him, not to increase attendance or raise money or start programs.
In a sermon preached in 2006 at the Together for the Gospel conference, John Piper said,
“Preaching is not conversation. Preaching is not discussion. Preaching is not casual talk about religious things. Preaching is not simply teaching. Preaching is the heralding of a message permeated by the sense of God’s greatness and majesty and holiness. The topic may be anything under the sun, but it is always brought into the blazing light of God’s greatness and majesty in his word.”
When we preach the inspired Word of God, God is glorified and all of heaven rejoices, no matter how small or how big your church plant may be.
2. Good preaching creates a positive first impression.
In his helpful article, Planter, Become a Better Preacher, Yancey Arrington (teaching pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in Houston, Texas) suggests that newcomers will evaluate your church primarily on the basis of the preaching.
Most churches are concerned about first impressions. Are the grounds neat and groomed? Is there any trash on the property? Is there a place for our visitors to park? Is there anyone to show newcomers the way into the building? Do we have someone warm and welcoming at the front door to greet people?
So, preaching may also be among those “first impressions.” Pay attention to what you say and how you say it every week. We want that first impression to be positive and encouraging because first impressions last a long time.
3. Good preaching announces our theology.
Most church websites contain a page that declares “What We Believe.” The pulpit is the most effective place where newly planted congregations not only see what the church believes about certain doctrines but also how they apply those doctrines.
People enter the doors holding all kinds of notions and expectations about what a church is and how a church should act. In the early days of our church planting experience in Windsor, Ontario, one Sunday two couples showed up, seemed to enjoy the service, and waited to speak to me at the back. But our conversation took an unexpected turn when they began to question me on some nuances of theology that seemingly differed from theirs.
Consistent biblical exposition will answer those kinds of questions and deal with misinformed expectations in context.
When we preach, we joyfully assert and clarify our theology; we make it as plain and as clear as possible for this congregation newly planted, and disciple them in what we believe, why we believe it, and how we live it out day by day.
4. Good preaching helps us to grow in grace.
David Mathis, the executive editor for DesiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church, writes, “When we sit attentively under the faithful preaching of the gospel, not only do we forget ourselves and refill our faith, but we are genuinely changed. The gospel we preach is the fragrance from life to life, or death to death (2 Corinthians 2:15–16). We grow or shrivel. Our hearts warm or cool. We soften or become callous. There is no neutrality when the preaching sounds.”
The Apostle Paul urged his young, church planting protégé to preach the word, to be ready in season and out of season. He urged him to “reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience.” Why? Because a time is coming “when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:1-3, ESV).
Sound biblical preaching will help your congregation grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).
5. Good preaching allows us to encounter the living Christ.
Faithful, Christ-centered preaching allows people to come face-to-face with Jesus Himself and experience the resurrection power of His gospel.
As Martin Luther said, “To preach the gospel is nothing else than Christ’s coming to us or bringing us to him.” Jesus is the only One who can satisfy.
In a day when it seems hip to attack evangelicals and bash denominations, deconstruct the faith of our fathers, and embrace so-called “progressive Christianity,” let’s not waver or neglect the preaching of God’s Word in every church.
For the glory of God, and the good of your people, preach the Word!
Watch or listen to Preaching the Gospel In (and Beyond) the Pulpit, to learn more about preaching.
Published January 21, 2022