Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 183

This week I read an article in Premier Christianity magazine with the title, “The case against Sermon-centric Sundays”. To quote from the subtitle, “Skye Jethani explains why digital technology is disrupting our 500 year old emphasis on lengthy Sunday sermons”.

Skye reviews the way in which technology has historically influenced communicating the gospel. Scrolls became codices which became printed books – and now we have the plethora of digital media options. In the not-too-distant past, good quality Bible teaching was restricted to a particular building, by a particular person and at a particular time. Not so these days.

Whilst much teaching online is of questionable quality and accuracy, it’s not hard to find teaching and preaching online superior to that we may find in our local congregation.

Does this mean that the delivery of a Sunday morning lesson is unnecessary? I wouldn’t take that approach. But, I would suggest that we think carefully about the purpose of the teaching and preaching we offer. What does this mean for the way we speak to a congregation?

Today I’m not going to discuss the style or mode in which we communicate to a congregation. I’ve covered that elsewhere, and will cover it again, but that’s not for today. Instead, let me offer three suggestions as to how to think carefully about the purpose of our preaching and teaching:

1. Preach pastorally.

Good quality online preaching is helpful. But it is not embedded in the community. When someone speaks God’s word to God’s people and they themselves are part of those people they speak with a personal perspective which can more accurately meet the needs of the group.

When Paul revisited the Ephesian elders he was able to say the following:

““You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia….You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:18–20 NIV11)

2. Preach inspiringly.

New Testament preaching of the word led to people becoming Christians – Acts 2.38-42; 4.4; 8.12; 11.19-21; 14.1 and many more. It converted their minds and hearts to Christ.

If God has brought non-believers into your midst is vital at least part of your preaching is directed at helping them to place their faith in Jesus. As such, preach inspiringly about him.

3. Preach edifyingly.

Paul and his companions travelled from church to church teaching for people’s edification, encouragement and strengthening – Acts 14.22; 15.32, 41; 16.5 and many more.

Be sure, when you speak, that you speak to the heart and mind of the members present such that they will grow in their trust and faith in God and learn better how to serve him.

Have a look at your next sermon outline.

Is it pastoral? In other words, is it personal from your heart and aimed at known needs in your fellowship?

Is it inspiring? If I came as a visitor without faith in Jesus, would I be inspired to look into what it meant to be a Christian?

Is it edifying? If I was a member of your congregation would I find that what you had to say helped me to be stronger in my faith and better able to live a life of discipleship in the coming week?

What I’d like to know today is,

“What are you doing with your sermons to make sure they are pastoral, inspiring and edifying?”

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John