On Monday and Tuesday of this week, our staff Lead Team was blessed to attend a Christian leadership conference called Spire in Orlando, Florida. For reasons that may be obvious at this point, the conference was shortened by two days, and we were all sent home before we blew away in a hurricane. Even with the limited time, we were encouraged and challenged by some of the messages and networking that took place.
One of the best parts for me was a session for pastors called “The 8 Axioms of Preaching” by Tommy Politz. He outlined what he believes are his top 8 principles regarding preaching and leading a church. I resonated with his list, and picked my top 4 to share with you today as a commitment to follow as your pastor. This is my heartbeat for my leadership for Cornerstone and preaching the word each week as we gather. Here are my top 4 from his list.
1. Preach for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
I Peter 4:10-11 says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.”
The word of God is not just therapeutic or moralistic. While it is both of those things, God’s Word is not a “feel better” manual, nor is it a “be better” manual. It is a guide into a relationship with Jesus and His church. Anything short of that, like using the Bible for self-help, is a distortion of God’s intention. So each week, I preach to glorify God and Lord willing to help anyone who hears want to soak in God’s Word on their own and grow in faith.
2. Information with application leads to transformation.
Sharing information alone can easily drift into deception. Application alone tends to cause disillusion. My goal each week is to make sure the combination of information (what does the text say?) coupled with application (what does the text mean?) presents each of us with a clear opportunity to transformation, which is the end game for every person.
Each week, I have two sermon editors who comb through my message after it is written. Their goals are to see if wording is weird, if the points are memorable, and if the direction is clear. But above all, they are helping make sure that I’m combining these two things, the special sauce for transformation.
Every sermon that uses God’s Word has the ability to transform. But if people are asleep or not engaged, the atmosphere for God’s transformation is limited. I hope to never get in the way of that, but instead be a conduit for what God is doing.
3. I cannot make the Bible relevant; it IS relevant.
While there are plenty of creative ways to deliver the Bible, the content does not need help in becoming modernized or relevant. It is the living, breathing Word of God. It is relevant. My job is to trust in its relevance and make sure my delivery is not a hindrance to the life-giving message God is sharing in His Word. We don’t have everything we want to know in the Bible, but we have everything we need to know. After 2,000 years from the last writing, the Bible remains amazingly relevant to daily life.
4. A sermon is never finished; just preached.
There are times as a preacher that I think to myself, “Do I really need to preach this again? Don’t people already know this passage or this truth?” And I do try and follow the “Would I want to listen to me?” rule when writing a sermon. But as Politz pointed out, the preacher’s primary job is “Chief Reminder.” The truths of God have a way of getting shrouded by life, and they need resurrected week after week in our gathering.
As we gather each Sunday, I show up every week expectant. I’m not just hoping God will move or wondering if He will. I expect He will. We are lifting up the name of Jesus (John 10) and declaring his Word; He IS moving. So, we gather in expectation, and I preach knowing that God is moving.
If you would, take a moment and pray with me for this Sunday. While so much of the meat and potatoes of disciple making is all week long in conversations, prayers, groups, ministries, and families everywhere, our gathering is special in its own way. Pray with me that God would move powerfully this Sunday as we talk about how God wants to use normal people to become disciple makers (Acts 8). See you Sunday!
Yours and His,