I’m just wondering…since I now have several people reading my blog that are offering great insight and questioning my thoughts…about preaching.
I have not stood in a pulpit and preached a sermon in well over a year. I have become quite disconnected from that sort of ministry. I haven’t been to a “normal” church service in several months. No, I haven’t forsaken the assembling of myself with other believers. We meet in my home nearly every Sunday evening. (Please don’t go there with this post, because that is not the point of it.) 🙂
Anyway, I am wondering about this particular verse:
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
2 Timothy 4:2, NLT
Preach the word; be instant is season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:2, KJV
When Paul wrote this particular line in his letter to Timothy, what was Paul’s idea of preaching? When Timothy read this particular line, what was his understanding of preaching? What was “the word”, that Paul was talking about? Could the “logos” have been simply referring to Jesus? Or is that too simplistic? Were they thinking about going to Scripture and developing a three point “sermon” to give as a monologue speech? Were they thinking about standing in front of a passive congregation while they gave a talk? If Paul were to walk into a typical church service today, would he find familiarity? Where do we find a particular “call” to preach? Are not all believers and followers of the Way “called” to proclaim the message of the Gospel? Of course these questions raise many more questions, but I will stop here for now.
I don’t offer these questions as critiques of any particular thing. I am really earnestly trying to understand this. Every time I see someone in the New Testament preach what we would call a “sermon”, the audience is always non-believers. I can’t find where anyone preached a “sermon” to a church gathering. Also, none of these “sermons” seemed to be anticipated ahead of time. They weren’t prepared statements with notes and such. They weren’t scheduled. They were spontaneous declarations of the Gospel which would usually culminate with the speaker being persecuted or the listeners repenting, or a combination of the two.
I wonder about this because the central focal point of nearly every Evangelical Christian’s week is the big moment of the sermon. The sermon seems to be the most important and honored discipleship method in churches today, yet I can’t find in Scripture where this was the normative or even understood practice of the early churches. I haven’t read yet where Paul, Peter, John, James, or even Jesus stood and preached a sermon to believers for the purpose of discipleship and growth in beleivers’ relationship with God. In fact, from what I understand, this was not a common practice until after the Reformation. Maybe I am missing something that you guys can help me see.
BTW, I do think that Scripture offers us a very clear picture of what was the normative practice among early churches when they came together. I will save that for the next post. For now, please show me where I have gone wrong in my thinking. 🙂