Evangelism: Why do Christian churches have sermons preached?

Evangelism: Why do Christian churches have sermons preached?

God created the world through preaching. We consider God’s speaking to Adam a sermon, as it was the authoritative proclamation of his Word. Then, Satan also preached. He twisted God’s Word and declared that God’s sermon was a lie. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, believed the Serpent’s sermon over God’s, and sin, death, and chaos have ensued ever since. The Serpent has continued preaching through false prophets and teachers every day since.

Jesus’ ministry included feeding the hungry, healing the sick, loving the outcast, and befriending the sinner, as well as bringing people to repentance and forgiveness. But we must never forget that Jesus’ ministry began with and centered on preaching.1

When Jesus sent the Twelve on their short-term mission, he told them to preach the message of the kingdom.2 Peter’s sermon was the very first activity of the church after the Spirit came upon them.3 The rest of Acts records the preaching and teaching ministry of the leaders of the church. Thus, preaching the gospel in its transforming fullness is a priority ministry of the church. God’s mission is accompanied by various other ministries that support, supplement, and sustain the preaching of God’s Word in truth with passion.

We are to preach the Word of God, the good news of what God has done, not merely good spiritual advice for better living.4 It has the power to save and bring people to maturity.5 The power of preaching does not come with clever stories or rhetorical devices but with the power of the Spirit6 and the answer to prayer.7 Preaching brings faith for hearers8 and is spiritual food to nourish people.9

Paul warned that times would come when people would not tolerate preaching.10 But, in an age of such confusion we need clarity, in an age of so many lies we need truth, and in an age of so much speculation about God we need revelation from God.

God’s people have always viewed preaching as something to be done when the church gathers. Preaching is proclaiming with authority and passion the truth of God’s Word. In preaching, the authority of God’s Word is upheld and God’s people are collectively led and taught according to the Scriptures. The willingness of Christians to sit under preaching is an act of worship, as they are humbly submitting to Scripture leadership. Preaching is among the most essential ministries of a church because the authoritative preaching of Scripture informs and leads God’s people in the rest of the church’s ministries.

The Bible tells us to simply “preach the word” but does not tell us exactly how this is to be done, thereby leaving some creative freedom for preachers.11 Expository preaching expounds upon the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture in the context of the book and the whole Bible. The best expository preaching goes through a book of the Bible verse by verse, bringing the original meaning, intention, or message to the lives of the people.12 I prefer to spend most of my weeks in the pulpit teaching through books of the Bible and interspersing topical sermons and sermon series as needed for variety.

A good church will always have good preaching. The preaching will be (1) biblical, focusing on what Scripture says; (2) theological, teaching what Scripture means; (3) memorable, practically speaking to the lives and culture of people; (4) transformational, leading to repentance, response, and spiritual maturity; (5) missional, explaining why this matters for the mission of God and the salvation of lost people; and (6) Christological, showing how Jesus is the hero-savior.

Faithful gospel proclamation, which began with God in Genesis, is to continue by faithful gospel preachers until the gospel is consummated in the return of Jesus, to whom all biblical preaching points.

What is the most impactful sermon you have ever heard? Why?

1Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35; 11:1, 5.
2Matt. 10:7.
3Acts 2:14–36.
41 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:12, 23–25; 2 Pet. 1:19–21.
51 Thess. 1:5.
61 Cor. 1:17–2:7; 2 Cor. 1:12; 2:17; 4:2; 1 Thess. 2:5.
7Eph. 6:18–20; Col. 4:3.
81 Cor. 2:4–5.
91 Pet. 2:2.
102 Tim. 4:3–4.
11 Tim. 4:2.
12There are many excellent books on preaching inclusing John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994); Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006); Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001); and Donald R. Sunukjian, Invitation to Biblical Preaching: Proclaiming Truth with Clarity and Relevance (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007).