Helping people grow
I've had the privilege of working with some excellent young men over the past couple of months to prepare them to preach at Grace Church Exeter. I love discipling and training others, helping them to develop their gifts. Growing in preaching is one thread in a larger canvas of this.
We need people who can faithfully and clearly and imaginatively and persuasively and listeningly offer Christ to people, whether from the pulpit or over a meal or a coffee, or walking down the road, formally or informally, frequently or occasionally...
As has been said "the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God" and when God speaks, the Universe gets created... human hearts get re-created. Ministry of the Word (and prayer) is at the heart of the church. Some are set apart to do this full-time but there's a place for many more to play as they work, rest and play.
- Joe participated in a similar exercise last summer and has become the third member of our preaching team over the past year. Our interaction is largely around preparation for these sermons, though our history includes a term of disipling him at the start of his time at University eight years ago. He's now a school teacher.
- Scott arrived at our church just under a year ago and we've done a range of theological and biblical training together over the last year. He's also got stuck in to helping us sacrificially as a family in a difficult season. He'll give a day a week to study with me and serve our church team from September for a year, whilst working four days a week as a teaching assistant.
- Paul, I met when he was studying at University. We've read the Bible together for nearly 4 years alongside other guided reading. He's served and led teams across the church, while studying and since. He has grown into an excellent young Christian man who I feel privileged to know. He did two days a week with our church team last year before starting a graduate job in our city as a pensions advisor. We consider him a part of our family and he is dearly loved by our children.
Initially we planned to preach through Esther over 4-5 weeks. I invited my friend Matt Rowland who is a curate at the local Anglican church to helps us get into the Biblical text. I'm very thankful for his input with us.
We spent four evenings together, studying the text before beginning to think about communication and preaching. Our goal is to draw out the meaning of the text, with the conviction that this will centre upon something of who Jesus is as the hero of the Bible, and to deliver this is a way that speaks to people as people, somewhere along their journey of faith, calling for appropriate next steps.
Late in the day, with wise counsel, we switched to preach from John instead of Esther. That set us back a bit in preparation (and meant one person had to withdraw). In some ways this doubled the benefit of our time together - giving us an in depth study of an Old Testament book, consideration of the task of preaching, and then application of all of this to John's gospel.
This intensified the preparation period for actually writing the sermon but I'm not sure thats a bad thing. Its easy to put in lots of extra preparation without gaining much more clarity.
Considering scenes from John's account of Jesus' life set us a simple goal to show something of Jesus so people might explore faith and experience more of Christ. We picked four of the passages in UCCF's six part Uncover John series.
Here are the four 27-28 minute sermons that came out the other end of our preparation.
- John 2:1-11 Beyond Necessity (me)
- John 4: Satisfy me? (Joe Greenhalgh)
- John 9: Was blind but now I see (Scott Pannell)
- John 11: Jesus and Lazarus (Paul Douglas)
I commend them to you to consider the life and work of Jesus.