“How may a preacher avoid sterility and stagnation in his preach­ing?”, by Guy N. Woods

By being a man of the Book, and a diligent student of many books. He who lives daily and intimately with the former, and dips frequently and intensively into the latter will never want for themes to preach, nor will his preaching be dry, unproductive and stale.

On the contrary, he will eagerly seek the pulpit in order to share the gold nuggets he has mined, and his audience will find delight in the precious ore he has dredged up for it.

In no other work is there such a high moral obligation to be efficient and proficient. The well-being of those who listen is at stake both in this life and in the life to come; and, to fail to give the best one has to the effort amounts to criminal negligence. Most who fail, and are consequently fired, do so because they do not study. Elders will occasionally hire a preacher because he is reputed to be a “good personal worker,” but in a few months they will fire him if he lacks pulpit power! Years ago, preachers were usually better educated and almost always better informed in the scriptures than other members of the church; but, this is far from being universally true these days; and a preacher will not last long in a congregation who does not keep ahead of the membership in his spiritual development and study. Congregations ought to recog­nize the vital necessity of such effort on the part of the preacher, and not only to permit it, but to encourage it. Any congregation, which places such demands on the preacher that he has little or no time for study, does not deserve an able preacher, and usually will not keep one long! I recently received the following question: “Don’t you think that the preacher ought to be out visiting the members and going to the hospital to see the sick instead of study­ing four or five hours a day?” I find it difficult to be patient with such stupidity as is evidenced in this question! While it reflects a rather common attitude in the church today, it shows total ignorance of the responsibility of a gospel preacher, and assumes that he is hired by the congregation to do its work.

It is indeed the duty of one who preaches to visit the sick, not because he is a preacher, but because he is a Christian! It is equally the duty of every other member of the congregation so to do; and it is not possible for the preacher to do this for them. That such a question is raised these days indicates how completely we have been absorbed into the “Pastor system” of the denominational world. Do we suppose we can hire another to serve God for us?……

Guy N. Woods, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, VOLUME 1,  page 325-326

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