Ainsworth Keith Morris is the sixth of seven children and a native of the beautiful parish of St. Andrew, Jamaica. He highly values the social and educational enhancement of the youth and the nurture and stability of the aged. His motto is: When you can't realize the ideal, idealize the real. His greatest desire is to see those to whom he has preached and ministered in Heaven when Jesus comes because he determines to be in that number when the saints go marching in.
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
Many individuals downplay preaching as an archaic, outdated method of communicating the gospel. They suggest that it should be replaced with dialogue, dramatizations, and other productions that will compete with the so-called advances of society. However, I contend that preaching is significant in pastoral practice to keep the congregation growing and healthy.
The bible is replete with examples of preachers and the injunction to preach. In the Old Testament, prophets were called upon to warn "the people" and give them messages from God. Isaiah’s counsel to the bearer of God's message is: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet." (Isaiah 58:1) Ezekiel affirms that the message should be presented "whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear." (Ezekiel 2:5). He continues to describe the preacher’s solemn responsibility in Ezekiel 3:17-19.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus emphasized the significance of preaching by word and action. The synoptic gospels describe him as constantly engaged in preaching. He said of himself: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news" (Luke 4:18). He also spoke of its significance as a precursor to his second coming. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14)
Preaching the "good news" was evident in the ministry of the apostles. It was apparent at Pentecost and integral in the establishment of the early church. Paul, arguably the most dominant of all the Apostles in the New Testament era, also emphasized the importance of preaching. He constantly preached during his travels as he raised and nurtured churches.
In the text of focus, Paul shared with his protégé, Timothy, one of the most critical pastoral injunctions concerning preaching. He called upon Timothy to do the type of preaching I classify as “Passionate Pastoral Preaching.” To be sure, passionate pastoral preaching must not be reduced, limited, or seen as synonymous with loud, emotional unrestrained utterances. It is not about the suavely charming smooth inflections of the voice or the roaring up-to-date exciting expression and well-coordinated choreographed gestures. Instead, Paul is counseling the preacher then and every preacher today to model the greatest preacher of history - Jesus Christ. In the words of Ellen White (1988): "The lessons of Christ should be carefully studied, and the subjects, manner, and form of discourses should be modeled after the divine Pattern. Oratorical display, flashy rhetoric, and fine gestures do not constitute a fine discourse . . . He did not sermonize as men do today. Instead, in intensely earnest tones, He assured them of the truths of the life to come, of the way of salvation."
Passionate pastoral preaching, such as Jesus demonstrated, and Paul admonished Timothy, can be viewed as revolving around some important P's and Q's.
P's and Q's of Passionate Pastoral Preaching?
The apostle is so concerned about the church that he braces his counsel with the disturbing outlook that the people will resist sound doctrine. Therefore, Paul implores Timothy to preach the Word with purpose. The purpose for which Jesus preached was to announce the arrival of the kingdom and offer divine citizenship to believers. This was evident in every discourse.
Paul declares that we need to "Preach the word." "The Word" (logos) can be understood to be the Divine expression in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1 & 14) or the Divine expression of God's will through the Scriptures. (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13) Paul is very clear about the parameters of our preaching. He consistently spoke about what he was called to preach: "the boundless riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8); "him" (Gal. 1:16); "the Gospel" (Rom. 1:1, 1 Cor 1:17, Col. 1:23); Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23); "the mystery of Christ" (Col. 4:3). It is clear then that the word he speaks of is the "good news of salvation."
The example of Jesus commissions us to preach "this gospel of the kingdom." (Matt. 24:14) Therefore, As Seventh-day Adventist preachers, we are called upon to preach the clarity of the unique understanding of biblical prophecy focusing on Jesus. It is incumbent upon the preacher to share that understanding, announce with urgency the imminence of Christ's second coming and the inescapable reality that we are living in the judgment hour.
The passage appropriately shows that Timothy is called upon to be "ready in season and out of season." The word epistēthi indicates that he must always be prepared. Preaching is not an occasion, but it is a process. And preaching with passion in this post-modern society demands diligent discipline in preparation.
One definition of preaching is: communicating through personality. And Paul’s admonition was that Timothy's preaching needed to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. In a real sense, Paul was suggesting that the Preacher must not be a "turnoff" by an arrogant and overbearing attitude. People are often turned off, not because of the piercing truth but because of the bombastic condescension seen in the preacher. Therefore, at times, it is not the sermon that needs modifying; it is the attitude or personality of the preacher that needs adjusting.
It may seem strange to mention that prayer is essential for the preparation and presentation of the word. But it must never be overlooked because many individuals are talented speakers and orators who are able, simply on those abilities, to make powerful presentations. However, for the preacher who desires to communicate the message from God, he or she must continuously listen to what God is saying. I read this from Arrais (2011) some time ago, and it bears noting:
The pastor who depends on his own strength, who preaches and serves from his own resources, will soon find himself weak, discouraged, and ready to quit. No one has the wisdom for all of life's decisions. No one has the patience to overcome all the problems encountered. No one has the time for all the tasks, energy for all the meetings, inspiration for all the messages, and enough compassion for all the people who need him. Being a pastor doesn't change these truths. Pray or quit. That is the choice." p.43)
When Paul Admonishes Timothy to Preach the word, he is calling on him to stand with holy boldness and declare the word of God. However, to do so, the preacher must have credibility. The listener has the right to question the authority from which the preacher speaks. People are more comfortable listening when the preacher is credible. Credibility is affected by: 1. Ability – Can they trust your skills? 2. Reliability – Do they have confidence through previous experiences with you? How did you do the last time you preached? 3. Spirituality – Do they see you as a spiritual person?
The preacher is responsible for being disciplined in preparing messages of the highest quality. The Seventh-day Adventist preacher cannot assume the posture of doctrinal superiority, believing that prophetic insights and eschatological understanding alone will force people to listen. The obstacles faced, plus the fact that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood," must be compelling motivators for the preacher to seek the Lord's strength and wisdom to come forth with messages of the highest quality.
In a busy ministry, it can be challenging to maintain quality consistently. But we must challenge ourselves by learning new methods and new themes. Personal development calls for discipline. Resist the temptation to stay within your comfort zone.
For the passionate preacher to capture the attention of distracted and self-absorbed listeners, he or she must raise questions of eternal significance. Therefore, both in preparation and presentation, asking questions is necessary. Raise questions that the listener may be asking. Raise questions that the listener is forced to confront. Raise questions that elicit the answers for felt needs. Asking questions can be vital in securing the possibilities of challenges and thoughts in the minds of your congregants.
The primary or starting exegetical questions are: Why? What? When? Who? How? Nevertheless, the preacher must dig deeper by asking questions like Why now? Why here? What next? These and many other questions can help to unearth gems overlooked or missed. The depth and scope of the sermon may be determined by the type of questions mined from the text or asked by the preacher to bring the hearts and lives of the congregation in transition and decide for a change.
As I conclude, let me share what Ellen White (1948) says regarding the sacred responsibility that rests upon every minister of the sacred word. "A man (woman) may preach in a spirited manner and please the ear but convey no new idea or real intelligence to the mind. The impressions received through such preaching last no longer than while the speaker's voice is heard. When search is made for the fruit of such labor, there is little to be found." p. 447
Since preachers are often described as men and women who minister between the living and the dead, great is their responsibility to transform lives and secure destinies while probation lingers. Therefore, the heart is the preacher's target for every moment of the sermonic period. Passionate pastoral preaching that is Spirit-empowered is an essential pathway to the heart. By following the Ps and Qs of purpose, presentation, preparation, prayer, qualification, quality, and question, the gateway to a higher level of preaching may be discovered, and the pathway to the listener's heart may be secured.
Arrais, J. (2011). Wanted, a good pastor: The characteristics, skills, and attitudes every effective church leader needs. Silver Spring, Md., General Conference Ministerial Association.
White, E. G. H. (1948). Testimonies for the church, vol.1. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Association.
White, E. G. H. (1988). The voice in speech and song: as outlined in the writings of Ellen G. White. Boise, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Association. p.111
Additional Reading Resources
Adams, J. E. (1986). Preaching with purpose: the urgent task of homiletics. Grand Rapids, MI: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co.
Bailey, E. K. and W. W. Wiersbe (2003). Preaching in Black and White: What We Can Learn from Each Other. Zondervan.
Chapell, B. (2005). Christ-centered preaching: redeeming the expository sermon. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Jones, R. C. (2005). Preaching with Power: Black Preachers Share Secrets for Effective Preaching. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Ministerial Association.
Jones, R. C. (2012). Preaching with Power II: More Black Preachers Share Secrets for Effective Preaching. Spirit Reign Publishing.
Loveless, W. (1998, May) Preaching: The endeavor itself. Ministry Magazine, 10-11
Robinson, H. W. and C. B. Larson (2005). The art and craft of biblical preaching: A comprehensive resource for today's communicators. Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan.
Robinson, H. W. (2014). Biblical preaching: the development and delivery of expository messages. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.
Warren, M. A. and E. G. H. White (2010). Ellen White on Preaching: Insights for Sharing God's Word. Review and Herald.
White, E.C. and E.G.H. White (1988). The Voice in Speech and Song: As outlined in the Writings of Ellen G. White. Pacific Press Pub. Association.
Author - Jon Ciccarelli
January 28, 2021