Preaching as the Centrality of Christian Worship

 |  July 19, 2019

I must confess. When I think about the word “worship,” the first thing on my mind is singing.  To be honest, I do not know why it does, I guess it is just a product of my upbringing; there was worship, and then there was preaching. I mean, it said so in the bulletin!

However, as I have matured and grown as both a Christian and a preacher, I have fallen in love with the idea of preaching as worship. In fact, every Sunday at Mayhill Baptist Church, I will undoubtedly say, “Thank you for joining us today as we worship God through prayer, praise, and preaching the Word.”

Richard Sibbes said, “Among ourselves, are there not many that reject the ordinance of God? Is not, say they, reading of good books at home as good as going to church? Do not such confess that the rivers of Damascus are as good as Jordan? We must come to heaven by the foolishness of preaching.”

But as preachers, we have surely heard the retorts of a congregant, “I will not be at church this Sunday, I’ll be worshiping God in the deer-stand.” And sure, one can worship God in the deer-stand; we ought to have our affections for God stirred at all times!

However, there is something about gathering with the saints of God each week to feast on His Word through Biblical songs, supplications, and sermons. But not just to be inspired with three points and a poem, but instructed by the faithful preaching of God’s Word.

In fact, over a century ago, B. B. Warfield warned of that very thing when he said,

“If the minister comes to be thought of, for example, fundamentally as merely the head of a social organization from whom may be demanded pleasant manners and executive ability; or as little more than a zealous ‘promoter,’ if the minister’s whole function is summed up in these or such things, if the whole function of the minister is ‘inspirational’ rather than ‘instructional,’ then, no doubt, we may dispense with all serious study of the Scripture.”

Sure, sermons may inspire, but if we serve as no more than pulpiteers of a self-help gospel, we miss the mark. Instead, true worship-inspired preaching will glorify God and instruct His sheep. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached.”

When we read the entire counsel of the Word of God, there is certainly the aspect of singing as worship (Eph 5:9). However, worship must also include Scripture reading and preaching (1 Tim 4:2, 13; Rom 10:14–15). Therefore, as preachers, may we lead our churches to recapture a love for God’s Word by faithfully preaching the Word.

Accordingly, if we are to highlight the centrality of God’s Word in our worship services, we would do well to choose songs based on the texts we’re preaching and pray prayers that are biblically based. Therefore, I encourage you to do the following:

1. Preach through books of the Bible. While that is likely preaching to the choir on this blog, I cannot highlight the importance of text-driven preaching enough. At Mayhill, we began our time with Colossians and Philemon in the mornings, Esther and Ruth in the evenings, and then started the Gospel of Mark and the Psalms in 2018.

2. Plan your music with the Word in mind. A great way to do this is finding songs based on the text you are preaching.

3. If you use a time of Scripture-reading during the service apart from the preaching, consider reading a passage that complements the text you are preaching.

4. I encourage a read through Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible, and when you pray in your services, pray through the text you will be preaching in your sermon.

Matt Henslee is the Pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, Managing Editor for LifeWay Pastors, and Co-Host of Not Another Baptist Podcast.

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