Why do you stand in the pulpit? What is your purpose?
The purpose of preaching is not to occupy time during the worship service. It is not to offer a little moral lesson or to suggest some interesting ideas for further thought. The purpose of preaching is to transform lives. The purpose of preaching is to make a difference – in the life of the preacher as well as the life of the listener.
A preacher without a purpose is like an architect who sits down at the drafting table to design a structure, but doesn’t know whether it will be a single-family home or a commercial warehouse. A preacher without a purpose is like an archer with no target. A preacher without a purpose is like a runner with no finish line. A preacher without a purpose is a waste of the congregation’s time and the preacher’s calling.
As we explore the place of purpose in preaching, it is important that one truth is paramount: it is God’s purpose that drives us, not our own. Proverbs 19:21 points out, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Preaching that focuses on human goals and purposes are destined for failure, though they may even appear successful for a season. The most important thing a preacher can do is identify God’s purpose in His Word, and effectively communicate that truth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That is preaching with purpose.
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.