by Robert Earl Houston
Happy New Year everyone. I am reminded of one of the teachings of the New Testament: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2).
I am troubled by that directive because it looks more and more like that it’s not being followed. Some of the things that are being accomplished in the Lord’s church is grand and historic and should be applauded. We have bigger sanctuaries, seven-days-a-week churches, more polished worship experiences. But where we may have dropped the ball in some instances is the transference of the doctrine of the church into the hands of faithful folk.
In other words, those who are in our frame of reference in many cases are looking at the spotlight but ignoring doctrine. I’m not talking about procedures and polity within any denomination – I mean the Word of God. The expressed Word. The Word that has matriculated through generations. I’m not talking about who sits in our pulpits nor am I talking about whether a church has a dance team or praise team – I mean the Biblical preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
I admit that sometimes it’s not going to be flashy. Most passages that relate to our human narrative can be self-examining and painful. However, if the doctrine is passed down from the prior generation to this generation, we have the obligation as pastors to pass it on – however, the onus is then upon those who receive it, to absorb it, handle it correctly, and then it to others also.
Preaching has to be solid. I’m sorry, it just has to be solid. Nothing is worse than sitting in an audience and hearing an unprepared preacher. Singing cannot substitute lack of preparation. A great, gregarious personality cannot substitute lack of research and proper proclamation. Even gifts in other areas cannot and should not be acceptable as an excuse for not preaching.
Preaching is not a vocation it’s a calling. A vocation is defined as something that you feel that you’re suited for. But a call to preach is the Lord’s decision that this is something you’re suited for. I remember way back in 1978, I sat with fellow students at Multnomah School of the Bible with pastoral majors. We were tag lunch at Burgerville, USA and we talked about our call. To my surprise only 2 out of 8 even expressed that God called us to preach. Some said they wanted an “easier job” and a couple said “my dad’s a preacher.” I sat there thinking, “this is not a play thing.”
Preaching means preaching when you or your message is not popular.
Preaching means that preparation is more important than your celebration.
Preaching means that you have to preach the whole book, not just a few passages.
Preaching means telling truth from the text instead of your opinions.
Preaching means helping people with the Word and not trying to psychoanalyze them from the pulpit.
Preaching means telling the old, old story in a contemporary fashion to generations in the crowd.
I’ve tried my best to pass it down to the next generation. Some have been faithful, some have not. But I can’t quit in passing down the teachings of the Word of God to the next generation. I had a member once quiz me about why I don’t teach on some contemporary subjects like other churches do and I said softly: “Because that’s not in the Book.”
This is not a play thing.