One of the struggles young leaders encounter is the self-defeating need to increasingly outdo their last performance. After a monster Easter service one year, one of our staff approached me and in excited tones, said: “How are we going to top this one next year?”
This was not the compliment I was looking for. Starting that day, I began to worry about the next year’s Easter services.
Developing a sustainable ministry requires concentration and poise. One man said to me, “You have nothing to prove and no one to impress.” I think we all need to post that statement above our study desks.
Using the baseball parlance, I encourage young leaders to preach base hits. If we try for the fence, we usually pop up or strike out. Go for a solid, well placed base hit only! And when you have three base hits, every other one will produce a score … the same score a home run would put on the board.
Solid base hits.
What does that include? Here are a few pointers:
1. God Directed
People don’t need good talks. They need to hear a fresh word from God … one they can understand and apply to their lives outside the church building. I need to be able to step away from the podium, and regardless of the response from the congregation, say, “Lord, I said what You asked me to say, and that’s good enough for me.”
Now I could have spoken more eloquently. I could have used better illustrations, and I could have been more humorous. But those skills can be developed. I need to know that what God wanted to say to the people was said, and that they understood it.
Matthew 13 tells us the parable of the sower and the seed. In the first story, we find the seed that fell beside the road. The birds had a feast with the newly strewn seed and the disciples gathered to inquire of the meaning. Jesus tells them that the seed is the Word, and then this statement in Mathew 13:19 follows: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.”
When the Word is sown and if people don’t understand it, the devil is given entry to steal at will! When I read this, it exploded in my heart. My responsibility is to make sure that the listeners understand! If they choose to trash it on the way out, that is their choice. But my responsibility is to insure they understand lest I open the door to the evil one.
Preach not for eloquence but for understanding. Simpler is better. Make no room for the devil.
The reason I use multimedia, dance, song, or testimony is not to be vogue or creative. It is to be certain that people understand! If I have to tap dance in order for the people to understand, I will learn to tap dance!
It starts with you. Do you understand what you are trying to say? Or do you have a nice Bible exposition that simply retells a portion of Scripture in narrative form? Does it have any relevance? Can you summarize it in one sentence?
If it is a haze in the pulpit, it will be a fog in the pews!
3. Fresh Bread
Everyone loves the smell of fresh bread. The other day, I was shopping for my wife when I passed by a display with freshly baked bread. It was still warm and although “bread” was not on my list, I felt the “Lord leading me to buy one.” (That’s what I told my wife, anyway.)
Fresh Bread is when the Word that you preach is one that has firstly gone through your own life. It is truth that has first captured your heart. Discovering fresh truth for yourself from your daily devotions is the best way to serve fresh bread. It is first for the eating, and then for the sharing.
When you serve fresh bread, the tone of your tone of voice, your sprit, and your disposition give it away. It is not a contrived enthusiasm, but a natural excitement for what the Lord wants to say.
Serve fresh bread. When it is God directed and understandable, you have a solid base hit. And as they say it in the Midwest, you can do that till the cows come home!