The Real Purpose of Preaching, and Why It Matters
by Rick Warren
God has a purpose for everything. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” God has a specific purpose for preaching, and His purpose is far more important than your purpose or my purpose for preaching.
One of the greatest problems in our churches is purposeless preaching. So many sermons are made up of many words in search of a purpose. Each weekend, 55 million people listen to 1 billion words in sermons given in America alone. Yet research shows that the biggest complaint people have is that sermons are boring and don’t relate to their lives.
If the purpose of preaching isn’t clear to the preacher, it won’t be to the listeners! My friend Charles Swindoll says, “If there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew!” Without a clear purpose, preaching is a misuse of the Bible, a waste of time to the people, and a frustration to the preacher.
Every preacher ought to have a solid theology of preaching so that we understand why we’re doing what we’re doing every weekend. And a solid theology of preaching always starts with God’s purposes for man, for the Bible, and for preaching.
God’s purpose for man is to make us more like Christ. The Bible says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Until you understand that this is God’s purpose for people, you aren’t ready to preach to others.
God wants people to think like Jesus. (see Philippians 2:5)
God wants people to feel like Jesus. (see Colossians 3:15-17)
God wants people to act like Jesus.
So the objective of preaching is to develop Christlike convictions (thinking), Christlike character (feeling), and Christlike conduct (acting). The problem is, most preaching utilizes a method that gets people to read the Word, but not to DO the Word. We feed people facts and information so that people leave informed, but not transformed.
George Gallup said, “Never before in the history of the United States has the gospel of Jesus Christ made such inroads while at the same time making so little difference in how people actually live.”
Before you preach again, examine the sermon you’re preparing and ask the question: Does this message not only challenge the way people think and believe but also challenge them to act and make actual changes in their lives as a result of hearing the gospel?