Preachers are commanded to preach the word in season and out of season.
This implies when it’s convenient and when it’s inconvenient, when the building is full and when the building is empty, and when the harvest looks promising and when the harvest doesn’t. We are to preach Jesus and persuade people to respond to His gospel of salvation. Too often we look at a sparse crowd and make a tragic human evaluation. The discouraged pastor concludes that everyone in his church is already saved or that his people simply don’t respond to public invitations. His evaluation hinders his proclamation and leads to defeat.
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that “he who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). He goes on to say that we should sow in both the morning and evening because we don’t know when God will bless us with a harvest. Observation coupled with spiritual discernment can lead to wise evaluation, but far too often we leave God out of the equation. Leaving God out leads to a pessimism that drives the spiritual life from our churches and produces barrenness.
Ron Dunn once said that every preacher must look beyond the physical and look to God or they will grow discouraged in ministry.
How do you look beyond the physical?
- Meditate on the great promises of God. Saturate yourself with the knowledge that God never leaves you, that He is accomplishing His purpose through you, and that His word never returns void.
- Spend much time with God in prayer. Pray over the scriptures you plan on preaching. Pray over the invitation that you will give. Pray that God would consume you with His message and speak mightily through you. Pray for those who will hear the word.
- Plan your invitation thoroughly. What are you wanting people to do? Transition your message from the conclusion to the invitation. Explain with clarity how a person can be saved, join the church, or make a specific commitment.
- Immerse yourself in God stories. The same God who used David to slay Goliath is the same God who works in you. The same God who parted the Red Sea for Moses can perform a miracle to use you. The same God who used Paul in difficult circumstances is the same God who can and will use you.
Tim Williams is a good friend of mine and is a gifted harvest evangelist. He recently went to preach a Sunday morning service in a church that had 27 people in attendance. Tim preached the gospel and extended the invitation in the power of the Holy Spirit. Five people were gloriously saved that morning and made public decisions. Tim could have easily allowed evaluation to hinder his proclamation. Instead, he sowed the gospel seed and God gave a harvest.
The first passage that I ever preached from was Ezekiel 37.
God sovereignly placed Ezekiel in a valley of dry bones. God then asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Human evaluation would lead many of us to say that it’s impossible. The bones are too dead, dry, and despondent. But Ezekiel didn’t use human evaluation. He responded, “O Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel preached as God commanded and the dry bones became an exceeding great army. My prayer is that God would once again turn apathetic people into an exceeding great army.
Will you preach as He commands you? Don’t let evaluation hinder your proclamation.
Published June 6, 2022