FIRST-PERSON: Preaching to whet appetites

Tags: preaching

WILKESBORO, N.C. (BP) -- Have you ever heard a hungry baby cry? My youngest could wail when he was hungry. As a baby, he desired with unfettered passion to be fed every two to three hours.

God reminds us in 1 Peter 2:2 that we are to desire His Word as babies desire to be fed. I have to ask myself: When was the last time we cried out for the Word of God? I think that may be a good question for our congregations as well.

Indeed, one aim in preaching is to motivate our hearers to desire the "pure spiritual milk" that is God's Word. Here are a few suggestions to us as preachers for whetting the appetites of our hearers:

1. Shine a light on your study process.

Though it goes without saying, we must make time weekly for intense study and application of Scripture. Not only does this build the foundation for our preaching, it allows us to offer commentary when appropriate in our preaching on how we came across biblical insights and applications. We might also want to use social media (Facebook, Twitter and blogging) as a means to shed light on our study habits for the benefit of our congregations.

2. Preach in series; encourage your congregation to study as well

We should consider preaching in series that help our congregations understand the overarching themes of the Bible and its books. Then, we should suggest in each series ways to read, study, meditate on and memorize the passages we are going to cover. It might also be helpful to recommend books and commentaries in each series and make them available as resources to our hearers.

3. Explain how the Scripture is changing you personally.

If we want to whet our hearers' appetites for God's Word, we must assure them that every Christian -- not just professional preachers -- can interpret and apply Scripture. We can do this by regularly illustrating how Scripture is molding and shaping us. We can also be intentional about offering clear insights in our sermons on how our hearers can read, study, meditate on and apply Scripture.

The bottom line is that a congregation's desire for and growth in the Word of God will seldom if ever exceed the example of its pastor. And if we want hearers who desire the spiritual milk of God's Word, it is our job to demonstrate that its intake is desirable and effective. In our preaching, let's make them hungry for God's Word.

Chris Hefner is pastor of Wilkesboro (N.C.) Baptist Church. This column first appeared at LifeWay.com/pastors.
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