FIRST-PERSON: The state of preaching in the SBC
EDITOR'S NOTE: Frank S. Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- I think I can say that I travel back and forth across the country as much as or more than, just about anyone within the Southern Baptist Convention. This allows me great opportunity to visit every size church as well as state conventions and associations, seminaries, colleges, universities and other groups.
Through this extensive travel, I hear many sermon messages and am able to worship in a variety of settings and styles.
Truly, I believe there is a resurgence of appreciation for the preaching of God's Word. The admonition given to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching" is being heard in a new way in our 21st century.
With the conservative resurgence now decades in the past, our Southern Baptist seminaries are inculcating a high view of Scripture into the hearts and minds of nearly 20,000 Baptist students. This inculcation is manifesting itself in a new appreciation for text-driven or expository preaching. While various methods of preaching are utilized across the land, we are witnessing a new day for a Word-based preaching style.
This growing respect for the Word of God gives encouragement for what might happen in the days ahead. We know that we are in a day and time of cultural antipathy. We understand that "doing church" is far more difficult than it once was. With that being said, there is still hope! Part of this hope comes from a new generation of people who believe that the true answers to our culture's issues, problems and situations come from God's precious, inerrant Word. While the challenges will increase and the opposition is sure to intensify, I am convinced there will be strong churches that will exist and prevail. I am also convinced that those churches will be served by godly ministers who believe in the power of the inerrant Word of God and who proclaim it as that which changes lives, families and our nation.
In my earlier years, I read numerous journal and magazine articles from various theological camps which, in essence foretold the end of preaching as an effective way to share messages from the Lord. There were many who believed that biblical preaching had become out of date and somewhat quaint. I can gladly say they were wrong. I believe interest in preaching in our convention and in the broader spectrum of evangelicalism is in a state of ascendancy, not decline. It is my belief that God will receive glory and honor from this ascendancy.
We always have need for improvement. In my own life, even though my youth has long passed, I believe in continuing to evaluate and strengthen my preaching style and content. There are many others who are continuing to do the same. However, we must always remember the need to share what God says, not what we think, feel or wish. Let us remember the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16: "I am compelled to preach."
Let us, as pastors and teachers, be compelled to preach God's precious Word so that we will truly see lives transformed!