This post is part of a teaching series on Catalyzing Mission through Preaching.
Read part one here.
I believe the goal of preaching must be mission; the mission of making disciples who make disciples.
When you preach you have to keep that goal in the forefront of your mind and if you are not a preacher but a teacher or other leader, you have to keep asking: “How is this sermon aiding the mission? How is this accomplishing the mission? How is this sermon leading the mission?”
Why is that? Because the “Text” is missional. That’s why the word of God was given; so that we might know God and His redemptive plan. That we might know his plan for us and be faithful to fulfill it by the power of the Holy Spirit. You might be thinking: “But Jeff, preaching is about the Bible!” I think Christopher Wright, John Stott’s protege, helps us a great deal in understanding the Bible and its missional thrust:
“The whole Bible is itself a missional phenomenon. The writings that now comprise our Bible are themselves the product of and witness to the ultimate mission of God. The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations, “life, the universe and everything,” and with its center, focus, climax, and completion in Jesus Christ. Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgently than some. Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, “what it’s all about.” – Christopher Wright
The Grand Narrative
Often people get so dialed down into the minute details of the text that they miss the grand narrative of God and the greater purpose for giving us the text. If everyone walks up to you after a sermon and says: “Man that was really cool, the Greek and Hebrew and that little thing at the end, that was great!” Even if everyone is taking notes and nodding along but when everyone goes away, there is no movement toward living a gospel-centered life of making disciples, you failed. Because the text you were given to preach doesn’t just have a missional application, it is itself given for the sake of mission. Each text reminds, encourages, and equips us for the mission of God in the world and fulfills the mission of God in our hearts.
Therefore, I’m increasingly convinced our goal as preachers must be geared toward missional movement. Our goal cannot be to impress our congregations with rhetorical skills or that they gain greater knowledge. Impressing people with our knowledge is not what we are after. We don’t gather the church and go through all the work of preparing and planning just to gain higher knowledge.
A Means to Accomplishing the Mission
We don’t want to value preaching above the accomplishment of Jesus’ mission, we want to see preaching as a means to accomplishing the mission. Your goal in preaching is to catalyze the people of God for the purposes of God. As preachers, we must keep that in the forefront of our minds as we study, prepare, craft, and deliver sermons. How do you do that? What does that look like?
Preaching that Catalyzes Mission is:
- Gospel Fluent, the preaching makes the gospel clear and addresses areas of unbelief for non-christians as evangelism but also as equipping for the body as an example to follow in everyday evangelism.
- Gospel Renewing, that gospel is experienced in the hearts of Christians in such a way that it transforms them. People who experience the renewing power of the gospel share in the purpose of the gospel.
- Experiential, the preacher is experiencing the mission Monday through Saturday and brings that experience into each sermon.
- Rooted in Identity, that the preacher continually reminds people of their identity in Christ and demonstrates mission as an outpouring of who they are.
- Spirit Empowering, that the body grows in its understanding that the Spirit is empowering their lives for mission.
How have you experienced preaching that encourages and equips you for the mission of God?