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preaching and leadership, leadership and preaching – jonathan robinson

I must confess I am rather new to conversations about “leadership”. However, as my own ministry has demanded more leadership from me in recent years I have been forced to reckon with the topic more. The following observations are offered from the humble vantage of a leadership rookie. They may appear rather sophomoric for the more seasoned leaders reading. I’d love to get your additions or criticisms.

Preaching and Leadership

  1. Preaching is the most visible part of your ministry. If you do it consistently well, then the church’s principle impression is of you doing something well and they will be more confident and receptive to your leading in other areas. However, good preachers need to be careful not to transfer authority from something they are expert in (e.g. the Bible) to something they are not (e.g. finances). Conversely, if you are sometimes seen to be struggling, incoherent or out of your depth confidence in you will be diminished. As pastoral leaders preaching is the principle expertise that gives us credibility before the church we lead.
  2. Preaching allows you to affect the character and disposition of the church by regularly presenting a calm and faithful presence. When we respond to crises in the church and local and global situations with a God centred biblical perspective we can help to reduce the anxiety and increase the faith of the congregation.
  3. Preaching allows you to show that where you are leading the church is not your own personal agenda but is in line with God’s word. Of course this is a danger area, we all know the scriptures can be manipulated, but that is not a reason not to do it, that is a reason to do it more diligently and ensure we are faithfully handling the word of God.
  4. The key to all the above is surely good exegesis. It is the only way we can be sure of knowing what we are talking about when we preaching, of reassuring the church of God’s faithfulness in troubled times, and the only way to protect against our own (well intended but false) agendas.

Leadership and Preaching

  1. If you preach well but never put it into action then the congregation will likely imitate that in their own lives. As you demonstrate leadership that is not satisfied with the status quo but demands change to conform to the will of God you create a culture in the church whereby we realise the word of God needs to change our lives.
  2. It is not enough to tell people how they ought to live or what they ought to do. For them to put it into practice the leader must shape a community that will create opportunities and pathways for them to do so.
  3. Just as the public nature of preaching means it can add or diminish credibility depending on how it is done, so does your leadership affect the reception of your preaching. Once when I had failed to adequately respond personally to someone who I knew was struggling with the direction of the church I then had the unpleasant experience of them erroneously taking something from a sermon as a personal attack and going on the warpath. They had missed the message of what was supposed to be an encouraging and uplifting sermon and instead our relationship was further damaged.
  4. The church doesn’t just listen to the preacher’s words but looks at her or his life to judge the message they hear. If our leadership is not gospel integrated, grace filled, and an illustration and outworking of the message we preach then the impact of our preaching will be lessened by our hypocrisy.

I am not suggesting that you cannot preach without being a leader, or that you cannot be a leader without preaching. However, in a church setting the two usually go hand in hand and I would argue that both have the potential to enforce or undermine the effectiveness of the other. Let me know what you think.

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