This post is part of a monthly synchroblog. The topic of this month’s synchroblog is “Maturity in the Light of our Faith”.

There are at least three parts to preaching. The first part is the preparation for preaching, the second part is the act of preaching, and the third part is listening to preaching. In today’s Christian life it is hard to find a place that does not encourage people to preach and people to listen to preachign. So, today I would like to discuss how each of these parts of preaching reflects on and affects our maturity as Christ followers. I am going to ask a few questions that I’ve thought of… questions that I’m thinking about. I will not answer these questions, I hope to get some conversation going about them.

Preparation for Preaching

I have prepared for preaching, I have attended many Sunday morning meetings where there was preaching, I have attended school where I was told how to prepare for preaching, I listen to preaching on CDs and the Radio, I talk about preaching with my friends and family. I’m not saying this to boast, I’m saying this so you understand where I am coming from. Of course, my experiences may differ vastly from others with similar experiences, but I have a feeling any difference will be purely semantic when it comes to how preparation for preaching reflects on and affects our maturity.

There are usually several things a preparer does when preparing for preaching.

1) Prayer that God will speak to him
2) Study a particular passage
3) Study what other commentators say a particular passage means
4) Study similar passages via a lexicon or other commentators
5) Put it all together for your listeners.
6) Practice, Practice, Practice…

None of these things are necessarily bad or wrong. In fact, if someone came up to me tomorrow and said, “I want you to preach two Sundays from now,” I’d pretty much follow this little outline (give or take a few things). To be perfectly honest, sermon preparation is really just glorified Bible Study – in our context it usually comes with compensation.

My questions are these: Does doing these things make you mature? Does doing these things mean you are mature? Does doing these things increase your maturity?

The Act of Preaching

Recently I saw a video of John Piper called “The Gospel in 6 Minutes“… to be honest it was really the gospel in a few seconds with an illustration and a lot of the word “never” – but that really isn’t my point. In this video John Piper said this, “You never outgrow the need to preach to yourself the gospel.”1 This quote got me thinking about the need to preach to ourselves… and the need for us to preach to other. It made me wonder about how the act of preaching reflects on and affects our maturity. In most traditional churches there is one man who does the preaching, often times called the Pastor. He is usually considered to be very mature. But sometimes, he will ask someone else to preach, perhaps a deacon or a seminarian. To most the act of preaching means that you have reached a certain maturity level. There is a hierarchy built into our thinking – levels of maturity if you will.

This is how I understand the hierarchy:

1. Layman
2. Layman who serves in some capacity
3. Layman who teaches
4. Layman who preaches
5. Deacon
6. Preacher
7. Pastor

I’m not saying that I agree with this hierarchy, this is simply how I understand it. If you were to corner me, I’d have a much different hierarchy, but this is what I believe others traditionally see in the church.

My questions are these: Does preaching make you mature? Does preaching mean you are mature? Does preaching increase your maturity?

Listening to Preaching

As normal church-goers we are always encouraged to listen to “good” preaching (among other things). We are encouraged to order CDs from the big named preachers, listened to Christian radio which has preaching, and even join churches where there are properly trained men to preach. There is actually a hierarchy built into this thinking as well. The more preaching you expose yourself to the more mature you are considered.

Consider this layman:

1. Goes to Sunday morning service
2. Does #1 and goes to Sunday School
3. Does #1, #2, and goes to Sunday evening service
4. Does #1, #2, #3, and goes to Wednesday evening service
5. Does #1, #2, #3, #4 and listens to preaching on the Radio or on CD.
6. Does #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and watches preaching on TV or DVD.
7. Does #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and reads biographies about famous preachers.
8. etc., etc., etc.

By the way, I think this list also leads into the list for the Act of Preaching.

My questions are these: Does listening to preaching make you mature? Does listening to preaching mean you are mature? Does listening to preaching increase your maturity?

Before you answer any of these questions, consider these three verses from Scripture:

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. – Hebrews 6:1-3

Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. – 1 Corinthians 14:20

For everyone who partakes {only} of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.- Hebrews 5:13-14

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Here is a list of bloggers who are taking part in this month’s synchroblog on the topic “Maturity in the Light of our Faith”:

Phil Wyman at Square No More with “Is Maturity Really What I Want?
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with “Watching Daddy Die
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with “what’s inside the bunny?
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with “Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with “the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain”
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with “Maturity and Education
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent with “Putting spiritual infants in charge
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with “Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity”
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with “Old Enough to Follow Christ?
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with “Intentional Relationships for Maturity
Jonathan Brink at JonathanBrink.com with “I Won’t Sin”
Susan Barnes at A Booklook with “Growing Up
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with “Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind’s Eye with “Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes with “vulnerable maturity
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with “What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with “post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa
Steve Hayes at Khanya with “Adult Content
Ryan Peter at Ryan Peter Blogs and Stuff with “The Foundation For Ministry and Leading
Kai Schraml at Kaiblogy with “Mature Virtue”
Nic Paton at Sound and Silence with “Inclusion and maturity
Lew Ayotte at The Pursuit with “Maturity and Preaching