Volume 18, Number 1.
In this new volume, Pastor Tom Westra begins a series on self-evaluation based on a survey of WELS Pastors. In addition, End Times thoughts are shared by Pastor Westra and Pastor Dave Kolander.
Who Am I?
What makes us competent as preachers of the Gospel? It’s not what, but who. The Lord makes us competent as his Gospel works in our hearts. He gives us the desire to say, “Here am I, send me.”
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:10)Who of us has not asked a similar question? Who am I—sinner that I am—that I should convict others of their sins? If the congregation to whom I preach knew the wickedness of my heart they would turn away in disgust . . . .
How’s my Preaching?
It is important that pastors receive good feedback on our sermons. It helps us to improve. This volume of Preach the Word will take the results of recent surveys on WELS preaching and use them to gain insights on how we can improve as preachers of the Word.
You’ve seen the signs on the back of trucks. “How’s my driving? Call…” Do you think the driver really wants you to call? How about a sign on our pulpits, “How’s my preaching? Call…” Honest feedback can be difficult to hear. We don’t like criticism. Our members know we don’t want to hear: “Long sermon today, Pastor. You lost me for the last 5 minutes.” “Funny story, just not sure where you were going with it.” “Thought I understood that until you preached on it.” So it’s “good sermon, pastor” from Barnabas-like members. . . .
How can I Improve my Preaching? “Be excited to tell me about the love of Jesus.”
If the sermon seems to lack the appropriate expression of enthusiasm, if the pastor seems to lack the appropriate joy in his proclamation of the Gospel, perhaps it is because as preachers we need to let the Word speak to us before we speak it to others.
In Herman Melville’s novel, White Jacket, the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Cuticle, is performing an operation. A sailor’s leg must be amputated. Since the ship is in port, Cuticle invites other surgeons to observe. As they gather, he launches into a detailed lecture about his superior surgical techniques. As he proceeds with the amputation, the patient is in obvious distress, crying out in pain. But Cuticle seems oblivious as he continues his dissertation . . . .
Preaching Thoughts for the Season of End Time
During the season in which we are encouraged to be faithful to the Word (Reformation), mindful of the judgment (Last Judgment), watchful for our triumph at Christ’s coming again (Saints Triumphant), and joyful in the reign of Christ (Christ the King) [from Planning Christian Worship – Year A by Jonathan Schroeder], the following may serve as illustrations or to stimulate your own thoughts for application.