One interesting aspect of living in the Midwest is the sudden change in weather. We can go from sunshine to ominous clouds to run for cover faster than an opponent can score on Nebraska’s Defense. A particularly arresting demonstration of this extreme weather is the hail storm. On occasion we’ve seen quarter, even golf-bowl sized hail bouncing off the sidewalks, cars, and roads. Once the storm passes, we assess the damage. Often cars, roofs, garage doors and other personal property suffer at the hands of the storm.
It is this hail-storm that has been a permanent reminder for me of my job in the pulpit.
Let me explain. The preacher’s job is to preach the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:2). That is, we are to herald, proclaim, or declare what the Bible says. As we do this, we will be highlighting the unique beauty, excellency and glory of Jesus Christ. This is the preacher’s job year after year, month after month, week after week, and sermon after sermon. We proclaim him! (Col. 1.28)
As we are doing this, we frequently become discouraged. We don’t see the growth and change that we would like. People aren’t “getting it” according to our timeline. As a result, we question ourselves. We question the method. We question the content. We question the hearers. And secretly, we become discouraged. I’ve been there more often than I’d like to admit.
This is where Jonathan Edwards is very helpful. When talking about his goal or objective in preaching he says this:
The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered….Preaching, in other words, must first of all touch the affections” (Jonathan Edwards, A Life, Marsden), p 282.
What is Edwards saying? He is saying that in his preaching he is aiming to touch the heart with doctrine. He is looking to light up the individual, perhaps even surprisingly so, with the truth of Scripture so as to produce a response that endures (impression on the mind).
Preachers then stand up in the pulpit and aim to pelt the car of the heart with the hailstorm of Scriptural truths. We are to make indentions, impressions, dents, whatever, upon the mind and heart by preaching the Word of God. Over time, our congregation will endure many homiletical storms. By God’s grace the hearer will be filled with such perfectly placed dents that they’ll become more joyfully caught up in the knowledge and service of God.
Don’t get discouraged preacher, study-pray-and preach…God will make the dents!