One of the joys of coming back from sabbatical a week before the staff team expected me(!) was turning up to find three new preachers speaking at services this Sunday, and realising how many new preachers have contributed to the worshipping life of the church over the past year or so. They have ranged from a 14 year old to the retired.

In our context we have a plethora of talented people who contribute to the life of Christ Church W4 in so many ways. It has been fascinating listening to these talented folk discussing preaching after their first, second or third attempt. Many, perhaps most, are used to presenting in their workplace, often in a high end business context. But they are quickly taken aback by how different preaching is. Those who learn to swim in this new communication medium seem to be those who grasp that they are not actually able to do this task, despite their many talents, because they have understood that:

Preaching is a spiritual transaction. From God’s heart, to your heart through His Word and to His people. It changes us both now and in the future context that we face. It waters a believer’s heart like rain or like snow, and melts (or exacerbates) an unbelievers defences.

Four blogs/videos were published this week on preaching I’d love all our new preachers to take a little time to consider:

  1. Ian Paul: preaching as a creative act … This focuses on preaching as: ‘What is God saying at this time to this people through this text’.
  2. Brian Houston: 30 rules for the preaching and teaching team (Hillsongs)… This just has some really helpful tips on sticking to time limits, not making it a cathartic self-disclosure session, and focusing on encouraging people through the lens of what would Jesus say.
  3. TED talks: why they go viral and your sermons don’t! 
  4. Andy Stanley: how to give a talk: 

All our preachers today did a top job. So great to hear their testimonies and be reminded about being part of the vine from John 15, (and I really valued learning something new from each talk). What we need to help each other work on as we raise up more servants of God’s word is giving and receiving helpful, encouraging and insightful feedback… there’s blog on that to follow in the coming months…

The Pickaxe Strikes
The Pickaxe Strikes

But I want to finish with this: A while ago (before the sabbatical started) I was given this moving prophecy from someone in the church I trust:

The image I had was a bit like watching a wide screen movie trailer – First it looked as if you were all on your own in the middle of an enormous field of crusty, hard, dry earth, the field was so big you couldn’t see the edges, perhaps like a huge field in central USA. You were digging at the earth with a pickaxes to break up the soil and make it fit for the plough and planting. It looked like hard work. I think maybe it seemed to be a reference to delivering sermons, at least in part.
Then the camera panned back a bit and behind you within a few metres were some more people joining you to break up hard soil, all also with pickaxes. Then the “film” speeded up, rather as if someone was fast forwarding the film. As far as the eye could see in any direction there were now people joining until they spread right across the field, several rows deep. The edges of the rows were out of sight. Behind you all, wheat began to sprout up, bright yellow and with sun shining on it and because of the speeding up of the film, the wheat was quickly tall and waving in the wind, ripe for harvest.

C’mob Lord Jesus. Back the preaching of your Word. And may we see many lives changed in this place.