What is the aim of preaching?

You’ve probably heard the saying a “failure to plan is a plan to fail” and the wisdom of that statement certainly applies to preaching. If we don’t map out what we are going to do and what we are aiming for we will probably miss the mark.

So what is the aim of the preacher?

1. To preach the word.

In the gospel of John we find this extraordinary statement:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The truths in this passage are deeply formative for the preacher. It tells us that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s word. It tells us that the Word is life and light for the world. It also tells us that the world will not recognise the magnificence of Jesus and yet some will receive the Word and become children of God. Not by human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

For the preacher, this means their primary task is simply to proclaim God’s word: unvarnished, comprehensively, carefully and passionately. It is not the preacher’s wisdom which brings light into the world. Nor is it the preacher’s charisma or ability to persuade which helps people to see what we are ordinarily blind to. No, It is the Word become flesh, explained and proclaimed, which God uses to bring us life.

Our job as preachers is to understand God’s word and faithfully pass it on. If our preaching is not carefully wrestling with God’s word and reflecting the Bible’s emphases and overarching themes, we are missing the mark.

Preaching which carefully mines the Bible and lets it set the agenda for our Christian lives is called expository preaching (Which means to expound, explain, and systematically communicate the meaning of a text).

 2. To preach the word.

Explaining a Biblical text carefully and in its fullness is essential to the task of preaching. But it isn’t enough. The preacher must also preach.

We gain something of the essence of preaching from 2 Timothy 3:16 - 4:2:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

From these few verses it seems pretty clear that preaching is different to, and more than, teaching. Preaching does much of the same work as teaching, and is even a form of teaching, but has a declarative connotation.

Paul charges Timothy to preach, and he is to be prepared, and he is to correct, rebuke and encourage, and he is charged in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge. In other words, preaching is pictured here as a bold and weighty declaration which calls for change and seeks to encourage.

Teaching can be as simple as conveying facts. Preaching has to include proclamation, a call for change, and a desire to persuade. It’s evangelistic in nature.

 

So, the aim of preaching is to preach the word. Or for a fuller definition:

Preaching is the explanation, application and proclamation to the mind, heart and will of God's timeless word with a view to the transformation of this people at this particular place and time. 
 

KEY POINTS.

The aim of preaching is:
1) To preach the word of God because it alone gives light and life and is the means by which children of God come into being. 
2) To preach the word of God because we are not merely communicating truth but declaring Christ as king and calling for a response. 
 

 
 

NEXT STEPS.

1) Watch the video below and answer/discuss the following questions:

  • What are the three dimensions to our preaching Mike describes?
  • How would it effect our preaching to neglect any one of those dimensions? 
  • What is the ultimate aim of preaching? 

2) Why might a preacher focus more on engaging their audience than carefully explaining the text? What is the problem with that approach?