Preachers have been in the news a lot recently. Most of the stories are ones we would rather not have read, but one news item in November struck me as a positive sign.
That was the article announcing that Jerry Falwell, widely-known as a conservative political activist and president of the Moral Majority and Liberty Federation, had decided to step away from overt political activity and return to the pulpit as his primary calling.
“I am now rededicating my life to the preaching of the gospel,” Falwell told a November 3 news conference. “At age 54, my first love is back to the pulpit, back to preaching, back to winning souls, back to meeting spiritual needs.”
Whatever one thinks of Falwell’s non-pastoral activities, the notion of a rededication to preaching is not a bad model for any of us as we start a new year.
The average pastor faces an awesome diversity of demands and limited time, whether he serves a church of 100 or 1,000. It is all too easy to become absorbed in administrative tasks, counseling, community activities — all valuable, all rewarding — and lose sight of our primary task: to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
J. H. Jowett, in his Yale Lectures on Preaching, urged his listeners to preserve a sense of wonder at the greatness of their calling as preachers of the Word.
“This sense of great personal surprise in the glory of our vocation,” Jowett observed, will “save us from becoming small officials in transient enterprises” and “save us from spending our days in trifling.”
The many other tasks of ministry are vital, and we neglect them at our peril. As Halford E. Luccock points out, the preacher is not Atlas “carrying the whole load of its (the church’s) work on the shoulders of his sermon.”
Yet where we face more challenges than hours in the day, we must make choices. The decisions we make about the use of our time and energies will reflect our truest priorities. With the calendar of a new year spread before us, can there be a more appropriate time to make a recommitment to the priority of preaching in our ministries?
Paul was constantly amazed that he had been given the privilege to proclaim the precious truths of Christ’s love and grace. He understood that there could be no higher priority for one called as a divine messenger than the faithful, authentic proclamation of that message.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
May 1988 be a year in which many of us rediscover the glory of proclaiming “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Thanks for reminding us, Jerry.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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