The spoken word is powerful. It’s even more powerful if you can take it beyond the people in your community. The Greek and Roman worlds had their philosophers and orators who traveled around the world persuading and convincing the world of the correctness of their views. Sometimes they were accepted and hailed as the shapers of their cultures and sometimes they were rejected or killed for their words.
Preaching is another way that people address one another. When introducing Christ’s arrival on the Judean scene, one of the most interesting phrases is that he came preaching the Kingdom of God. Apostle Paul wrote that the gospel should be preached in season and out of season and did exactly that when he took this Kingdom message to the Gentile world. The preachers of the Patristic and Medieval Eras borrowed various styles from the pagan world. During this time, the church heard preachers such John Chrysostom (John the Golden Mouth), Ambrose, Augustine, Abelard, Hus, Savanarola, and many others. Preaching was slightly modified by the Reformers who were more emphatic about teaching. A new type of preaching emerged in the Awakening Period, with Whitfield, Wesley, and Finney, who emphasized conversion, and continued with Dwight L. Moody and Billy Graham.
Today, preaching the Word of God is so diversified. In some churches, a preacher might preach over one hour and the congregation believes that to be a sign that they really had something to say. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are churches in which the homily (an abbreviated form of a sermon) is barely 8-10 minutes. In our modern time, there is even a movement that believes a sermon should be given as a series of tweet. Speaking the Word of God is taking different forms. There are preachers who integrate movie clips, pictures of various pieces of art, and testimonies from around the world into their sermons.
With all of these different forms, the concern is not about which form you use but if these speakers have a word from the Lord God. A famous 20th century preacher said that on Monday morning, every preacher starts with an empty page. Before that empty page carries a message that will transform lives, it needs three elements—a knowledge of the written word of God to humanity, an understanding of the context in which the preacher and those who will hear it live, and a good dose of imagination.
The apostle Paul also prays that when he opens his mouth, the words that he speaks will be anointed and empowered by God to do the work that God intended them to do. If the preacher speaks the words of God, then he can rest assured that God’s words will not return void but accomplish the purpose for which they have been sent.
My prayer for 2019 for preachers and for every Christian is that they will be anointed to speak the words of the Lord so that our world will see a revival and turn back to God and His plans.