Mobilizing the Congregation Through Preaching
Part of the challenge of a pastor’s preaching is to not just inform his congregation, but to also motivate them toward obedience to God’s Word and to participation in their faith through the church. Worship and teaching contains two primary elements: revelation, or God’s words or instructions being revealed to believers, and response, where believers respond to God’s Word in obedience (and non-believers respond by surrendering to Christ).
When thinking about the preaching element of response, look at three areas of the congregation that you can speak to:
Heads. Preaching can speak to the mind of the believer. This is the intellectual portion of a message, where you may argue or reason logically, and present factual information. “Head knowledge” helps to build a foundation for action by defining a problem, challenge or opportunity. For instance, “There are 160 million orphan children in the world,” is a fact that opens the door to discuss our response as Christ-followers. Head knowledge is usually devoid of emotion and is concerned with clearly articulating the situation or opportunity at hand as accurately as possible.
Hearts. Preaching can speak to the emotions of the believer. This is the story or relational portion of a message, where one’s experience can be presented. Unlike factual information, experience is rich with emotion. Listeners can empathize with the subject of a story. Anger, sadness, outrage, inspiration, joy, sorrow—all are useful emotional responses to “heart preaching” that help draw the believer into action.
Hands. Preaching can speak to the actions of the believer. This is the practical application portion of a message, which connects God’s Word to our obedience. Sometimes preaching may leave this area without comment, allowing the believer to “process” what they have heard and respond as the Holy Spirit leads them individually. Other times, preaching may directly connect God’s words with a specific action in response. For instance, the orphan statement above may be connected to, “We have an orphan care ministry at our church where you can help us collect and distribute clothes to foster children and international kids without moms and dads.”
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.