What is the preacher meant to do … and how should we introduce them?

The other day, I wrote about one of my bugbears which is the way in which sometimes preachers are introduced as being about to explain God’s Word.  You can read here why I don’t like that phrase. This prompted the legitimate question “then how should the service leader introduce the speaker?”

My answer would be that this all depends on what we  believe that the preacher is doing. To help us with the answer I want to consider two things.  First, a further look at what the preacher is not doing, then a consideration of the needs of the congregation, what might they be looking for from him. 

In my last post, I wanted to emphasise that the preacher is not primarily to explain as though the sermon were an educational exercise where we needed help with a difficult text.  At the same time we must also add two more things.  First that they are not there to give their own ideas and opinions on things.  Your pastor is not there as a politician, that’s not where his expertise is.  This doesn’t mean that he cannot have political opinions, it doesn’t mean he is ignorant on such matters. He may well be as informed and insightful as any member of parliament.  Expertise there is not about what they know or what degrees they have, it is about what they have been called to focus on and where their authority comes from.

In the same way, the preacher/pastor is not there as a medic, psychologist, self-help guru, social prescriber, or counsellor.  He’s not a historian or philosopher. He’s not a financial advisor or lawyer.  And though he may employ humour, he is not a comedian!

Nor is the preacher there to bring a direct revelation from God unmediated.  What I mean by this is that they are not speaking as a prophet in that context.  Now to be clear, I personally believe in ongoing gifts, including prophecy where the prophecy itself is not special revelation but part of general revelation and so under the authority of Scripture.  This means I think that a preacher may prophesy whilst preaching and that there may be a prophetic element to the sermon but the preacher isn’t there to prophesy in any of the most commonly understood senses.

The second thing I wanted to pick up on was the needs of the congregation. Whenever I get up to preach, I’m mindful that people have turned up from all kinds of situations. Some will be grieving, some will be anxious about a loved one in hospital and others will be worried about a coming diagnosis or prognosis for themselves.  Then there will be others who have turned up straight after a blazing family row whilst others would love the opportunity to have a family argument but are widowed, single, childless.  Some will have work and money concerns.  All are probably a bit worried about Putin, gas prices and the state of the world today. 

Yet, the great need that all have, whether they already know Christ or are coming for the first time, is to meet Jesus.  They need the Gospel applied to their life circumstances right now. 

What is my job as a preacher? It is to proclaim Christ.  It is to open up Scripture and to show how it applies first to Jesus and through him to each of my hearers, individually and corporately as part of God’s church together.  Now, I don’t mind the exact form of words you use to introduce the preacher but that’s what they are hopefully going to do, so tell the congregation that!

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