I think I can say that I travel back and forth across our Convention as much, or more, than just about anyone else within the Southern Baptist Convention. This allows me great opportunity to visit every size church, as well as associations and state conventions, colleges, universities, seminaries, and other groups. Through this extensive travel, I hear many sermon messages and am able to worship in a variety of settings and styles.
Truly, I believe there is a resurgence of appreciation for the preaching of God’s Word. The admonition given to young Timothy in II Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” is being heard in a new way in our 21st century.
With the conservative resurgence now decades in the past, our Southern Baptist seminaries are inculcating a high view of Scripture into the hearts and minds of almost 20,000 Baptist students. This inculcation is manifesting itself in a new appreciation for text driven or expository preaching. While there remain various methods of preaching being utilized across the land, we are witnessing a new day of appreciation for a Word-based preaching style that is very encouraging. This growing respect for the Word of God gives encouragement for what might happen in the days ahead. We know that we are in a day and time of cultural antipathy. We understand that “doing church” is far more difficult than it once was. With that being said, there is still hope! Part of this hope comes from a new generation of people who believe that the true answers, cultures, issues, problems, and situations come from God’s precious, inerrant Word. While the challenges will increase and the opposition is sure to intensify, I am convinced there will be strong churches that will exist and prevail. I am also convinced that those churches will be served by godly ministers who believe in the power of the inerrant Word of God and who proclaim it as that which changes lives, families, and our nation.
In my earlier years, I read numerous journal and magazine articles from various theological camps which, in essence, foretold the end of preaching as an effective way to share messages from the Lord. There were many who believed that biblical preaching was out of date and somewhat quaint in the later 20th and early 21st century world. I can gladly say they were wrong. I believe interest in preaching in our Convention and in a broader spectrum of evangelicalism is in a state of ascendency, not decline. It is my belief that God will receive glory and honor from this ascendency.
We always have need for improvement. In my own life, even though my youth has long passed, I believe in continuing to evaluate and strengthen my preaching style and content. There are many others who are continuing to do the same. However, we must always remember the need to share what God says, not what we think, feel, or wish. Let us remember the words of the apostle Paul who in I Corinthians 9:16: “I am compelled to preach.”
Let us, as pastors and teachers, be compelled to preach God’s precious Word so that we will truly see lives transformed!