Rather than entertaining, we must preach the Word faithfully and unapologetically. Although there will be many critics from the establishment of local churches, there will also be an awakening and an excitement that accompanies counter-cultural preaching. Almost against our intuition, the starving men, women, and children in the Church will flock to a church that musters the courage to buck the trend of entertainment-saturated soundbite sermons. Therefore, we must renew a radical commitment to the Word of God and to the intentional exposition of its pages. We must reinvigorate a form of preaching that marvels at the glory of God as presented on every page of our sacred Bibles. As John Piper (The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 9) has aptly observed:
Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: ‘Show me thy glory.’
Preaching requires bold and daring leadership from the pulpit because it has immediate tangible consequences. Some messages may require a full forty-five minutes. Others, because of the complexity of the preaching text or because of the cultural divide between then and today, may require an hour. As the sermon length grows, the preacher may find that he has to remove favourite stories about dear little Sally and lovable Aunt Edna. The five minutes reserved for a video-introduction may be next on the chopping block. And then, since the sermons continue to grow in length, the preacher may find that he cannot dot all the i’s or cross all the t’s for every conceivable modern day application. He may have to begin to trust the Holy Spirit to help each person in the congregation to find, through personal prayer and meditation, the specific application that fits. It may become necessary to challenge the congregation to become active partners in the ministry of the Word; to take personal responsibility for the chewing, the swallowing, and the digesting of Scripture on their own with their families and friends by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them.
In short, preaching requires the elimination of all culturally savvy fluff, the exhorted empowerment of the hearer, and complete trust in the Holy Spirit. The preacher will have to work hard to mine the jewels of Scripture, stop micro-managing the ears of his congregation, and simply let go in order to let God. Yes, this is scary stuff… and it is good.
If we dare embrace this kind of preaching, it is crucial that we remember that a longer sermon does not necessarily equal a better sermon, for it certainly is not a simple correlation. Plenty of long sermons are simply awful. It is not the length of the sermon, whether it be long or short, that makes it good or bad. The quality of the sermon will be directly attached to the preacher’s love of the Word, readiness to die in the pulpit, and trust in the active power and preaching of the Holy Spirit. When a preacher embraces this kind of preaching he will find that he must work hard to contain his sermons to an hour. Again, it is not because a long sermon is a good sermon. The preacher’s sermons will grow longer because his love and commitment to the pulpit will keep him enthralled before his congregation and before God. He will want everyone to linger with him in the magnificent presence of the Lord as the Holy Spirit unlocks ancient mysteries contained in the once dusty Bibles of the local church.
Preaching is not entertainment but there is nothing more enjoyable and fulfilling then sitting at the feet of Jesus while He Preaches the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through a preacher who knows he has nothing to offer except a crucified disposition in the hands of a mighty God. It is under these conditions that a sermon draws its power. The power of preaching is the very power of God at work in a congregation who longs to meet with Him through the words of a preacher who seeks no glory for himself.