Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Importance of Preaching and the Sufficiency of Scripture

While reading through some articles on “Family Integrated Churches” I found the following two articles by Scott Brown to be very good: Preaching the Word in the Family Integrated Church and The Sufficiency of Scripture at Work in the Family Integrated Church.

In the first article it is stressed that while the family is of great importance it can not be what we, in the end, worship. We as the people of God need to keep the Word of God central to all we do. Scott Brown relates that family integrated churches need to be “God-centered, Word-saturated, Christ-exalting churches.” This is so true, while I think that all too many churches have strayed from dealing with families as God desires them to be treated the main cause is that the church has strayed from God being the central focus of church. I am sure that most churches would deny this but what has happened over time is that while we say that worship of God is the central purpose for meeting the reality is that the worship of God is only part of what is done and everything else has become the focus. Whether the focus is the incorrectly labeled concept of “family friendly” or the church being totally designed around evangelism the issue is that the people of God are going to church for all the wrong reasons and often do not even realize it.

The antidote for this is not just to change what we do but to change what we focus on. Once the word of God becomes central and the preaching of that word is done correctly then the direction of the church will change. We can focus on families correctly but if God’s word is not central to what is done then in the end we will do as Mr. Brown is concerned can happen, that the family (or any other thing for that matter) can be come the center of the church as a replacement for Christ.

The second article deals with the idea that the scriptures are sufficient for us to “examine, regulate and reform the church.” Many claim the sufficiency of scripture but then look to everywhere else but scripture to see how the church should function. In today’s culture one of the main places we seem to look for guidelines for the church are the unbelieving world and the culture that it lives in. I do think that if we read scripture we will find principles and practices that are more universal than we may like to admit. What usually happens is that the culture decides that some practice is undesirable and the church in an effort to be “relevant” and “contextualized” changes what is to be done. As the article speaks of , preaching is one of those practices that scripture is very clear is to be central but since preaching is not in vogue today many have either done away with it in an real sense or have minimized it to a place that makes it not preaching at all.

Since the Word of God is unchangeable it should be the one thing we as a church should turn to. This does not mean we are to preach unintelligible sermons but it does say that preaching needs to convey the true meaning of God’s word no matter how offensive and do so in a consistent manner that shows the people of God it’s sufficiency for the church. This also entails us as preachers not only to preach the sufficiency of scripture but to live it. If we proclaim its proficiency but then turn to every thing else when directing the church what have we communicated to the people we lead.

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