Reformed Articles

Preacher, Study the Text—But Also Study Your People

This post was originally published on this site

Simply put, pastors, consider your people as you preach. Now, this might be easier for me because the church I serve isn’t very large. But even if our church had 500 members, I hope that I’d be active enough in my personal shepherding that I’d be able to consider individuals’ circumstances and spiritual health as I prepare my sermons. If what I’m saying is true, then consider the limitations of multi-site, video-preaching models. 

I’m sitting in my office working on my sermon for Sunday. The text is Malachi 1:2–5, and it’s about God’s love. A softball, right? Not really. This text deals with the “love” of choosing, the “hate” of rejection, and the Lord being angry with a people forever (Mal 1:4). That’s going to require a little more elbow grease during sermon prep. D. A. Carson understandably calls this one of the more difficult aspects of God’s love.

But this article isn’t about election. It’s about the people in my local congregation. While preparing this week’s sermon, I’m thinking about a hundred different things as I study the text. I want to consider the historical context. I want to consider what Richard Lints would call the text’s epochal and canonical horizons. I want to consider how this text relates to Jesus and his atoning work on the cross. I want to consider all the things necessary to faithfully communicate the point of the text. But here’s the thing: I also have to consider the actual people I’m preaching to.

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