David Murray’s recent post on The Gospel Coalition Blog struck a chord with some recent convictions I and fellow pastor-friend were feeling. I think every pastor struggles with wanting to preach “blockbuster sermons” and receive recognition for being better than others. And some of us listening to our pastors teach often neglect to remember that they have a great advantage over teachers on the internet in influencing our lives, namely, they have a relationship with us!
Murray’s words are a great reminder of what’s most important when it comes to preaching and listening to sermons. Here’s a few excerpts:
How can “ordinary” pastors compete with the vast range of well-known and greatly gifted preachers who are just one mouse-click away from everyone in their congregation? I know this is a sore point for many discouraged pastors….However, I want to remind pastors of a huge advantage they have over the “popular” preachers of our own day. That advantage is, simply, personal relationship.
…of course, I deeply appreciate and frequently benefit from the sermons of the well-known preachers of our day. But I don’t know them and they don’t know me. I don’t know their lives and characters, and they have no involvement in my life. We have no relationship. That significantly limits the long-term spiritual impact of their sermons.
But when I have a relationship with a preacher; when I know him and he knows me; when we have wept together and rejoiced together; when I know he loves me and prays for me, then there is an added dimension to his words. They may not be as impressive words, or as well-organized words, or as well-said words. But they are empathetic words, and so they are powerful words.
…Maybe, instead of spending a further ten hours on perfecting your blockbuster sermon, you should spend ten hours visiting your flock. That could give your sermons new power in your hearer’s lives. And remember, though we are blessed to live in a time with wonderful conferences and 24/7 Internet sermons, God primarily saves and sanctifies sinners through long-term pastoral relationships in the local church.