Preaching & Teaching

Dr. David Whitaker, Executive Director

I was recently provoked with a quote by James Emory White,"...if you are called to the ministry of communication, then pursue it with all your energies."  We cannot take for granted the incredible privilege of being before a group of people who actually come each week to listen to us deliver a message from God's sacred text. Yet, I wonder, if we were honest with ourselves, do we sometimes take our role of teaching and preaching for granted?

Moses told Israel, "For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live..." (Deuteronomy 32:47) I'm not sure I always remember how critical the message of Scripture is to those I speak before each week.  It is their life... it is MY life!

Are we prepping and speaking because we get paid to do this; it's expected that we do this? Or, do I actually believe that I must deliver God's Word...and do it with all of my heart, because His word is essential for life for those in my audience?

It's easy in the communication that we do (whether from a platform, classroom or small group) to let this work become routine..just churning out the next lesson or sermon. Because we've forgotten it is no empty word.. but your very life, we lose passion, we quit trying to improve our communication skills... we quit pursuing our ministry of proclaiming the Word of Life with all of our energy.

When my daughter was quite young, we were having a discussion in the car about our schedule that day. "Why do you have to be in your office all day, Dad? I responded "I have to study and prepare for my message will take me most of the day (I added...maybe trying to impress her?) She quickly replied, "I don't know why it takes you so long.  All you have to do is open your computer and print it out."

As funny  as that is to me, in some ways, it's become sadly true for many communicators. Rather than doing the hard work of prepping to deliver the words of life, we simply open our computer and print out a sermon or lesson. Our goal has become the sermon or lesson, not delivering a word by which our audience should live... God's Word! 

We realize that all of us in this role live in the constant tension of getting this right. As a network of churches, we are addressing this through one of  our core values, "leadership development." Through our Ministry Leadership Certificate (MLC) and workshops, like our Preaching/Teaching seminar {Http://].,we want to come alongside of our leaders who communicate week after week!  If you haven't registered yet, I encourage you to register your team and make plans to join us March 15!

Thanks for the privilege of getting to partner with you!

Dr. David Whitaker

P.S. I'm grateful for the people who serve with me in this ministry to churches... I could not do it without them! Two of our staff, Rick Watson and Jim Culp are stepping down from their roles in NextGen. We are grateful for their faithful ministry to our association of churches and look forward to celebrating their labor for us at our annual leadership gathering in May!