Adam Wyatt • September 5, 2019
For most pastors, there comes a time in their preaching ministry where no matter what you do, your sermons fall flat. Sometimes, if we are honest, it is because we fail to properly study and put in the appropriate work that is needed to be effective in the pulpit. However, other times, there is something else at work.
Recently, I found myself on the receiving end of this feeling. It didn’t matter how much I studied for preaching; I found my preaching falling flat. Additionally, when I entered the pulpit, I encountered such a heaviness in my spirit that I knew something was going on. I could not put my finger on it, but I knew that this heaviness was something that could only be described as a spiritual darkness. Was this darkness on myself or my church? That is hard to say because it affected both. I felt that my preaching was either falling on deaf ears or coming from a mute man.
Regardless, many of us find ourselves preaching through this type of thing. We love our folks and genuinely want to see the power of God manifested when we gather on Sundays, and we genuinely want the preached Word to go forth in power and boldness. However, our sermons seem to do nothing but leave us exhausted and brokenhearted and our hearers unmoved and unchanged.
What do we do when we find ourselves preaching through this type of funk? How do we faithfully continue studying and preparing gospel-centered sermons when we feel that all of our efforts are in vain? I want to offer 5 practical tips that have helped me get through this recent season of preaching through a funk that I hope can help give you some encouragement.
- Trust the sufficiency of Scripture.
I realize that it may sound trite and cliché but the Word of God really is sufficient to overcome a funk in preaching and also to overcome your people’s hardened hearts. I have to continually remind myself that preaching is ultimately an act of worship centered on my own beliefs about the Bible. If I truly believe that the faithful preaching of the Word is enough for my people, then I will ultimately believe that it is also enough for my own soul. In this past season of ministry, I have had to continually remind myself that I must trust the sufficiency of Scripture rather than my own preaching.
- It is not about you.
When we find our preaching ministry unfruitful, it is easy for us to become self-centered. This self-centeredness is especially true when we know that we are putting in the work needed and we sincerely believe that we have preached as faithfully as we can. In times like these, it is easy for us to become preoccupied with ourselves because we think that there is no logical reason for our preaching to be as ineffective as it seems. When we do this, we can tend to be puffed up with pride as we look down on our congregation and their lack of response and blame them for their unfaithfulness to the Word. Being puffed up with pride is unhealthy for a shepherd. When we think in this manner, we do not truly remember our calling. Our calling is meant to lead the sheep lovingly. To do this, we must remember that it is not about us.
- Stop taking it personally.
Additionally, when we fail to remember that our preaching ministry is about our congregation, we also start taking things personally because we believe that our ministry is about us. When we start taking things personally, our preaching will most likely continue to suffer because we can see our people as enemies rather than ones we have been called to serve. I believe that it is impossible to have a faithful preaching ministry or pastoral ministry when we begin to take things personally. Fellow pastor do not do this. You will destroy your ministry. You cannot love and serve your church at the same time you blame them for everything that you do not like.
- Check your heart.
If you are like me, you want to find a solution to things that are not working correctly. Additionally, if you are like me and you are taking things personally, you can quickly start leading out of hurt rather than love. Leading out of hurt can overflow into your preaching. When you are taking things personally, you can tend to direct your sermons either towards individual people or situations to see them change. In short, this is manipulation and bullying. When we use the pulpit that we have been entrusted with as a way to direct personal attacks, we are close to finding ourselves unqualified to be a pastor. Let us never seek to use the pulpit ministry as a way to defend ourselves from perceived personal slights but, instead, let us seek to use the pulpit as a way to lead others to the Gospel.
- Bat for average not for home runs.
Lastly, it is helpful for us to realize that a proper preaching ministry is not one that continually hits home runs but, instead, hits for average. To be sure, some sermons can seemingly be “better” than others, but as long as we are faithfully preaching the Gospel, we can trust that its sufficiency is enough to be counted as a faithful sermon. In this way, we must see that every sermon preached in this way is a base-hit that produces runs. We must start to see our preaching ministries in terms of a long season rather than a big game. Let us all continue to preach the Gospel faithfully and, while we may be in a slump or a funk, we must always remember that the season is long and we must continue to get up to bat. Pastors, continue hitting singles and to God be the glory.