The Church Is More Than Just Preaching
I have been pondering over this thought for years now: The church is more than just preaching (i.e., a local church gathering together to hear the Word preached in a worship service).
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a pastor, and faithfully preaching/teaching the Scriptures is one of our primary responsibilities (2 Timothy 4:1-2; cf. also 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9). So, I love to preach! I believe in preaching. It is absolutely necessary to our spiritual growth and I do not wish to lessen its importance in the life of the church, especially given the rampant unhealthy (i.e., unbiblical, bad hermeneutics, unsound, etc.) preaching that is going on in our day. We absolutely need to elevate the sound preaching-teaching of God’s Word in our services (and beyond).
But the church is more than just preaching.
Jesus commands us to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), which we are enabled to do by our prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, and gives us a laundry list of “one another” commands in the New Testament that is supposed to characterize how we live with each other as a church. These commands are to be obeyed both on an individual and collective or corporate level (through a church-wide discipleship mechanism, program, or environment – i.e., Small Groups, Bible Fellowships, Community Groups, Life Groups, Growth Groups, even some Sunday School programs that have been reworked to be more group-focused rather than teacher-led, etc.).
The point I am trying to make is simple. Our job as pastors is not only to preach the Scriptures/Gospel to the congregations we have been called to, but to also encourage them (as well as ourselves) to participate in those discipleship-oriented ministry environments that are designed to help facilitate their spiritual growth.
I would also encourage you, my fellow pastors, to prayerfully plan how you can work this vital, biblical apsect of church into your preaching.
Here is an example from John Piper (Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN):
And from Gaylon Clark (Lead Pastor at Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in Austin, TX):
If some of you think this is a bit much, consider this. Many of us actually do this type of promoting or highlighting of biblical values or corporate initiatives (e.g., building campaigns) in our preaching or over the pulpit/podium. We preach on stewardship, not forsaking the assembling ourselves together (by that we usually mean people should not habitually skip out on attending the worship services at the church of which they are members), and so on. Shouldn’t a ministry/program/initiative that is primarily designed to aid believers in making disciples be included in your message, be the focus of a stand-alone sermon, or even a series?
By all means, preach. But let us also be sure to promote and participate in the body life of the church. Remember, the BODY of Christ is not just made up of a mouth. It has many parts that when working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Thoughts or comments?