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a panellist reflects on the recent kiwimade preaching event – martin stewart

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When I said ‘Yes’ to being one of the four panellists at the Christchurch Kiwimade Preaching day I was about to go on sabbatical and would say yes to almost anything as long as it was in the far distance.  When the event came about in my first week back in my church I kicked myself and was heard to groan a little on the Thursday morning as I headed out to face the traffic and a day of four sermons on the same passage.  How wonderful God was to continue to work with me and my ungrateful spirit because that day turned out to be for me one of true blessing!

The tone and spirit of the day was worshipful and expectant of God to speak, and God did.  The four very different sermons, delivered by four hard working preachers, were riveting.  Using different styles these people unfolded layers of treasures from the Luke 4 passage on the temptation of Jesus in the desert.  The ability to speak this word into our lives, especially with the bicentennial of the gospel being preached in Aotearoa on our doorstep, was consistently excellent.

Being on the panel was a real challenge and privilege.  I might have been a little provocative at times, but my overwhelming feeling as the day unravelled was one of wonder.  God was in the room.

I was both impressed and challenged.  Impressed with the way God spoke through the four sermons and those gutsy people who walked deeply with the text for us, and challenged as I reflected on my own preaching responsibilities.  It was very good to be at an event that honoured the high calling of preaching while also inspiring me to attend to the task with renewed vigour.

If there is one consistent thing that the four preachers taught me it was this – I need to put more space around my preaching.  In the busyness of my ministry, the preaching of the Word needs more, not less attention.  The preparation in prayer and thought needs to be extended, not lessened.  For most people it is the proclamation of the Word of God that draws them to God – the preacher’s responsibilities in this work of God’s Spirit are very weighty indeed – God needs room in our busy lives to speak and be heard.

One Comment

  1. I’m sure us Waikanae panelists can relate to much of that! There were a lot of great things about this conference. Good to hear some other preachers preach – how often do we hear someone outside our own church? Good to be reminded of the variety of styles we can tap in to (Inductive, Narrative etc). And I loved the final question with each sermon: ‘What is the Spirit saying?’ This ensured we got beyond the technical issues or critiquing for its own sake and allowed the Word to challenge us. Geoff New led this really well and I say well done Kiwimade crew for trying something really different with this conference. I hope this model is used again – my sense was that people really responded to it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who regretted not bringing more folk along!

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