WINDSOR, ONTARIO – Once your church plant has launched a Sunday morning worship experience, you had better preach — and preach well! A quote from Albert Mohler says: “Evangelical pastors commonly state that biblical preaching is the hallmark of their calling. Nevertheless, a careful observer might come to a very different conclusion. The priority of preaching is simply not evident in far too many churches.”
So, my brothers, we must preach!
John Stott admitted to being “an impenitent believer in the indispensable necessity of preaching both for evangelism and for the healthy growth of the church.” So, preach!
D. A. Carson points out that Puritan theologian William Perkins wrote that preaching “has four great principles: to read the text distinctly, from canonical Scripture; to give it sense and understanding according to the Scripture itself; to collect a few profitable points of doctrine out of its natural sense; and to apply, if you have the gift, the doctrines to the life and manner of men in a simple and plain speech.” Simple, profound, and inspiring, isn’t it?
Carson writes: “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. 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 require good preaching for at least five reasons.
1. To glorify 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.
2. To make a lasting first impression
In his helpful article, “Planter, Become a Better Preacher,” Yancey Arrington suggests that newcomers will evaluate your church primarily on the basis of the preaching. So preaching may be a “first impression” element. If newcomers evaluate whether they want join this new work based on what happens in the pulpit, we had better pay attention.
3. To announce our theology
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.
Again, quoting Arrington, “The pulpit ministry, then, is a catalytic instrument whereby the preacher explains how this church intends to embody its theology:
When we say complementarian, this is what we mean . . .
When we say we believe in God’s sovereignty in salvation, this is how that looks for us . . .
When we say we’re missional, this is how that value surfaces in this body . . .
When we preach, we joyfully assert and clarify our theology for this congregation newly planted, and disciple them in what we believe and how we believe it.
4. To mature in grace
David Mathis 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 Cor. 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.” “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
5. 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. At one of the interest meetings we held to talk about planting another church, one of our guys said, “Pastor, I’m in as long as the new church plant preaches like The Gathering!” The high value we place on preaching and teaching the gospel of God is making an impact and setting the stage for another church plant in the future.
Brothers, you had better preach, and you better preach well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garth Leno is a church planter working with SEND Detroit in Windsor, Ontario. His church is called The Gathering.