In Kevin Deyoung’s book Why We Love The Church, he interacts with certain Christian leaders who wish to dismiss some of the practices of the church as unnecessary, unhelpful, and even unbiblical. One of these practices that receives a large amount of criticism is the practice of preaching during the worship service. Deyoung brilliantly engages with the critics with such biblical accuracy that it makes you want to stand up and clap. Here is an excerpt from the chapter where Deyoung seeks to show the benefit of the sermon and the biblical warrant for a preacher, rather than someone just leading a discussion.
Christ is present in the preaching of the Word. God has always been a revealing God, a God who speaks to His people. By His words God created the heavens and the earth. By the word – spoken and then written – He formed the nation of Israel at Sinai. By the word declared -and written – He instructed His people through the prophets. By the Word He forms, gathers, and instructs the church. Christ, the Word made flesh, is present in God’s speech to His people…God meets with and rules over His people, not through a facilitated experience of group sharing, but through the authoritative preaching of the Word of God. We see this expressed…in 1 Peter 1 where the word of God is the Word of Scripture and, in a derivative but no less real sense, the preached sermon (1:25).
The greek word for preacher is “kerux”. It is different than the word for “teacher” or “apostle” (2 Tim. 1:11). A kerux is a herald. He is not the leader of an inductive Bible study, as important as those are. He is not engaged in give-and-take dialogue, though there should be some of that in the church. And he is not to simply give testimony to what the Lord is doing in his life, though that can be good to hear. He is a herald, declaring a message for the King. If we lose preaching – the passionate, authoritative proclamation of God’s message from God’s man to God’s people – we are losing more than a half hour talk once a week. We are losing a normative, essential aspect of Christian worship, one that began in the New Testament, stretches back into the Old, and has had a rich and continuous history over the past two thousand years.
The answer to bad preaching (and no doubt that’s what we have in some of our churches) is not no preaching, but better preaching – preaching full of meat and marrow; preaching that manifestly comes out of the Scriptures and leads us back to them week after week; preaching that is unquestionably soaked in godliness and the presence of God; preaching delivered with passion and humility as from a dying man to dying men. When pastors preach like this, some will love it and some will not. But no one will have the right to label the sermon “a little talk” or an “inspiring oration.”
Why We Love the Church, pg. 175-176