Why do I preach?

Attending Pastors Day at Inspiration Hills was definitely a highlight of my week. Led by Reformed Church in America pastor Seth Sundstrom, it focused on honing our sermon preparation skills.

At one point Seth had us all take 20 minutes to answer this question:
Why do I preach and what do I hope to accomplish through it?
It took me 5-10 minutes to come up with this response:

1.
I preach
to give the Holy Spirit a forum –
fallen and broken,
yet willing and available –
to grow my listeners (starting with me)
into people who follow Jesus
more closely,
more loyally,
and more lovingly.

Because I still had time left over, I decided to try writing more responses. There is some overlap between them, but I think they each express something unique getting at why I preach:

2 (option A):
I preach as part of God’s work of changing me,
changing my listeners,
and changing the world
to be more like Christ.

2 (option B):
I preach as part of God’s work of changing me,
changing my listeners,
and changing the world
to align more with His Kingdom values and purposes.

3.
God uses my preaching to grow His beloved church
into the beautiful bride and effective ambassador
that He knows it is and made it to be.

4.
I preach because God reveals glorious things in His Word
that the church and world need to hear
and that I cannot keep to myself.

When we reconvened and were asked to share what we wrote, I chose to read 2B.

::– –::– –::


The following day, I decided to do a little research into how other theologians and preachers have answered Seth’s question through the ages. Here are some responses that resonated with me and contribute to the reasons I’ll get up to preach tomorrow morning:

I preach to restore the throne and dominion of God
in the souls of my listeners.

– Cotton Mather (1700s), quoted by John Piper

I preach to humble the sinner,
to exalt the Savior,
and to promote holiness.
– Charles Simeon (1800s), quoted by Peter Adam

I preach in order to explain and apply the Word of God
to the people of God
in order to prepare them for service,
unite them in faith,
and foster maturity and growth.

Peter Adam (1990s)

God uses my proclamation of the Word
to comfort, challenge, correct, inspire, and deepen
the faith and life of God’s people.
The Worship Sourcebook (2000s)

I preach to make the spiritual bones of God’s people
more like steel,
to double the capacity of their spiritual lungs,
to make the eyes of their hearts dazzled
with the brightness of the glory of God,
and to awaken the capacity of their souls
for kinds of spiritual enjoyment
they didn’t even know existed.
John Piper (2000s)

I preach because through it
the Holy Spirit effects change,
gives grace to weak and weary sinners,
and elicits faith in the hearts of God’s people.
The goal of my faithful preaching of God’s Word
is none other than the holistic conformity
of God’s people into the image of Christ.

Leah Baugh (2010s)

Preaching graphic found at challies.com

5 thoughts on “Why do I preach?

  1. Carla Walhof says:

    I am so grateful to God that he sent you to us! I love it when you preach and I am thankful that you are willing to bring the Word of God alive to people like me who strive to be like Him and walk in His ways! You are a blessing to me in so many ways! I cannot express my appreciation enough!

    Like

  2. Stanley J. Groothof says:

    Thanks, Carla, for reading my blog and for your encouragement. I’m glad God brought our family to Trinity CRC too! ~Stanley

    Like

  3. Pat says:

    Thank you for preaching, Pastor Stan!

    Like

  4. Diane says:

    Well said

    Like

  5. Natalie says:

    What a mission! And you do it well, Stan! Thank you for your diligence!

    Like

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