I’ve been sitting in 1 Corinthians 2, preparing to share it with my care group tonight, and so when I saw this comment by J. C. Ryle on Healthy Preaching = Healthy Churches I went in for a closer look.
First, I’m strong on preaching as a primary vehicle for the gospel to be communicated. Some so-called experts who study church growth downplay the role of preaching for a healthy growing church and point to other things as more significant as how best to grow and manage your church, including great programs and such. Good programs are just that… programs. They may be good if they serve the goal of clearly communicating the truth about the Gospel but the trend in programs often seems tied to or directed by how well they ‘market’ and how well they ‘attract’ the crowds; and who can’t help but measure success in the numbers?
What I like about healthy preaching is where the dependence lies. Paul was given to ‘healthy preaching’ and he communicates this to the Corinthian church (1 Cor 2). “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul was not only convinced there was a fundamental message but he also understood that he could do a world of harm if he engaged the Corinthians with the rhetorical techniques and lofty speech the Greeks were prone to esteem and seek. His whole purpose in not engaging men with human wisdom and plausible words was so that the Holy Spirit would work in power and the result would be true conversion… true faith, that didn’t rest upon the wisdom of men but rather in the power of God. Paul loved the Corinthian church and he loved the Gospel and his dependence was on the power of the Gospel to save unbelievers, nothing else.
Another wonderful preacher, J. C. Ryle, encourages us similarly as he highlights the role of healthy preaching…
The importance of preaching is God’s chosen instrument for doing good to souls. By it sinners are converted, inquirers led on, and saints built up. A preaching ministry is absolutely essential to the health and prosperity of a visible church. The pulpit is the place where the chief victories of the Gospel have always been won, and no Church has ever done much for the advancement of true religion in which the pulpit has been neglected. Would we know whether a minister is a truly apostolical man? If he is, he will give the best of his attention to his sermons. He will labor and pray to make his preaching effective, and he will tell his congregation that he looks to preaching for the chief results on souls.
~ J.C. Ryle
By God’s grace and through His loving protection, our church has seen a year of healthy preaching from God’s word. Unencumbered with the cultural preferences of the day, there has been a humble healthy communicating of the Word of God from the pulpit and the fruit is showing and there is an increasing delight in God becoming more and more evident in the church body.
Also by God’s grace and provision, it seems He is bringing another preacher into our church to help meet the needs of the saints as we grow in grace and truth and look to what God has in store for us. To God be the glory… may His will be done.