|  April 22, 2024

The following article is part of a series of articles that will explore necessary disciplines for preachers. As the title of the series suggests, these disciplines act as foundations for effective preaching.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8, ESV) Paul loved the Church in Philippi. He missed them while he was away, and he yearned to preach to them in person once again. This type of love and affection is the ideal for how pastors should love their church. A primary expression of pastoral love is preaching.

Sermons delivered from a pastor who loves his people are more effective, more powerful, and ultimately more Christlike than sermons delivered devoid of pastoral love.

Now, if Paul started Philippians with, “I really don’t have time to be writing this letter, but y’all need it,” I doubt that would have drawn the audience in. People quickly feel love coming through a sermon—or not. A pastor’s exegesis and exposition gain traction among his listeners as they know his care for them. Additionally, preaching from love helps pastors create sharp applications from the biblical text, because the pastor knows what his people are going through and facing in their lives. A pastor’s love for his people grows as he shares life with them. As Paul wrote, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

I doubt any pastor reading this article is surprised so far, but I know what some of you are thinking… What about the folks who have attacked me? What about those church members who are a little harder to love? How do I lovingly preach to the people who have been rude and disrespectful to me dozens of times?

I understand—all pastors do! In my own life, it’s easier to love my people when I stay fresh spiritually and physically. Being tired just makes us ornery, right? So, pastor, get into good rhythms of rest and renewal, and loving your people will become more natural and genuine. A few suggestions:

– Read and study the Scriptures daily.

– Enjoy ample time in prayer.

– Practice silence and solitude at least weekly.

– Exercise most days and prioritize getting plenty of good sleep.


Take a disciplined approach to remaining healthy personally so that love overflows.

An additional practice that helps my love grow for people in our church is by praying for them. I have a 4×6 index card for each family within our church, and I work through those cards every month. On the prayer card, I have the name of each person within each family, and a couple of ways I can pray for them. It’s amazing how my love grows for our congregation as I simply pray for them every month.

A final encouragement: make love pervasive in your church. Create systems of love and care to extend your pastoral love structurally through the ways you organize the church. Redemption City Church, where I serve as pastor, may be the most welcoming church in the world—not because I’m able to be everything to everyone—but because we have systems of love and care built out.

As an example, everyone who comes to one of our church services will be warmly welcomed five times before they reach their seat in the worship center: by the parking team, then by the front door greeters, then by the lobby hosts, then by the worship center door greeters, then by the in-room hosts (organized by seating section). I include this encouragement in an article about preaching because a critical objective before any pastor is to extend Christ’s love to his church.

Finally, one of our pastors concludes each worship service by saying, “I love you, God so loves you, now, let’s go make Fort Worth more like heaven.” Tell your people often that you love them and stay in healthy patterns spiritually and physically so that your love for them is genuine.

Matt Kendrick is the Pastor of Redemption City Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

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