Today I plan to be just a little bold by suggesting two things I think every preacher would (or perhaps should) like to see from the pulpit.
By all accounts I am still a beginner when it comes to preaching. According to my records I have preached in little over 40 churches and delivered something in the region of 180 sermons. Nothing to boast about, but over this short time there are two things I think preachers long to see and don’t always…
The first thing we want to see from the pulpit when we preach is a congregation with open Bibles.
We preach because we believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Word; true, trustworthy, holy and profitable for life and godliness. We trust the Holy Spirit who inspired the authors as they wrote those words, to illuminate our minds by revealing and applying God’s truth to our hearts. We believe the Bible to be living and active, eternally relevant and powerful. We don’t stand behind a pulpit on a Sunday because we think we have something worthwhile to share in and of ourselves. We stand behind a pulpit on a Sunday because we believe God’s Word has something worthwhile to teach us.
For these reasons when we look out at a congregation we desire to see people who have their Bibles open, because it contains the life changing message. We want to see people read the verse we are talking about; we want to see people measure all that we say against God’s Word; we want to see people following the flow of thought in the passage as we present it; we want to see people picking up mistakes that we make; we want to see people know and remember Scripture better by both hearing and seeing it.
We deeply desire to preach to congregations with open Bibles.
The second thing we want to see from the pulpit when we preach is a congregation with responsive faces.
It is a significant thing to choose to place yourself under the teaching of someone; it is equally significant, if not more so, to rise to your feet to teach someone.
Most preachers will tell you that they get nervous before they preach, and many will confess that while they want to preach it is something more akin to a compulsion to preach. Therefore, when we stand behind the pulpit and say ‘Good morning/evening’ – a murmur and some smiles go a long way to ease our nervousness.
However, our comfort and ease is not our main priority in seeing responsive faces. The main reason we want to see responsive faces is because we want to know whether or not we have connected with those in front of us. We may be able to explain the text adequately and faithfully but if we have not connected with the congregation we are serving we have not accomplished our task.
I have preached in churches before and during the sermon there is no response. I finish thinking I have missed the mark only to be surprised by the thoughtfulness of some who have clearly been impacted at the door on the way out. You don’t have to leave it until the doorway…
If we make a joke (and it’s funny) laugh a little; if we evoke anger with an illustration of treachery gasp and shake your head a little; if we cause sadness to surface allow the tear to trickle down your cheek; if we elicit untold joy with an imperfect image of our eternal home smile like a Cheshire cat.
We want to know that we are connecting with you. Indeed, more importantly we want to see some indication that God’s Word has connected with your minds and hearts.
We deeply desire to see congregations with responsive faces.