Here is a guest post by my good friend, Dave Jenkins, director of Servants of Grace, a great website full of gospel-centered articles and materials:
On April 26th, 2012, I had the opportunity to teach at the small group I attend through my local church Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho. The teaching went well and the Lord blessed our time in the Word of God. As I was reflecting on this event, I wanted to share some thoughts from this experience with you.
While I realize some people take a full manuscript with them when they preach, I am not one of those guys. I take an outline of what I’m going to say because it helps me to remain focused throughout my time of preaching or teaching. During the middle of the small group I realized I was focusing too much on my notes and not enough on ministering to the people present through the Word. This experience taught me a valuable experience which is the point of this post. Notes aren’t bad, they help me to stay focused, but it’s better to be Spirit-dependent, Word-saturated and drenched in prayer.
Before I preached a sermon for my preaching class in front of family and friends a few weeks back the associate Pastor at my local Church told me to love the Word and love people. These words, “Love the Word and love people” have been bouncing around in my head so much lately as I recently accepted a pastoral internship at my local Church to learn from Pastor Rick and Pastor Matt.
I was recently asked by a friend what I thought when preachers preach from notes or don’t use notes. What I told him is I don’t care if a preacher uses notes or doesn’t use notes as long as their confidence is in the Gospel and they are confident in what they are preaching or teaching.
On April 26th, 2012 at the small group, I learned an important lesson that whether I’m preaching a sermon or teaching a small group study having notes is important, but not all important. For me, having notes helps me to not go off on tangents. I’ve also learned that I need to be aware that I can rely too much on my notes at the expense of being dependent on the Spirit
as I minister the Word. Whether preachers or teachers use notes or not is not the focus of my post, but my point is whether you use a full manuscript, an outline or no notes at all make sure you make much of Jesus by being Spirit-reliant, Word-saturated and drench yourself in prayer as you preach and teach the Word of God to the people of God.
The lesson I learned on April 26th, 2012 is one that will stay with me the rest of my life as I continue to mature not only as a communicator but as a Christian. The focus of Christian preaching and teaching should be on preaching Christ and Him crucified in the power of the Holy Spirit. The goal of Christian preaching isn’t just to give an information dump or lecture, but rather to preach the Word in such a way that believers and non-Christians are confronted with their own sin and the truth about what Jesus has done in His death, burial and resurrection. In other words, the Gospel isn’t a suggestion nor is it secondary. The Bible teaches that the Gospel is of first importance (1 Cor. 15:1-4), and the “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans. 1:16). “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). Loving the Word and loving people is important even vital to growing in maturity in ministering to the people of God, but as I learned in teaching small group it’s not only loving the Word and loving people that’s important; its loving the Word, loving people and relying on the power of God in the Gospel through the Spirit to minister to the people of God. Whether you use notes or no notes at all in your preaching or teaching isn’t the issue. The issue is are you Word- saturated in your teaching, Spirit-dependent as you prepare and as you teach, and do you spend significant time drenching yourself in prayer with your Savior before you preach and teach.
As you continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus, I encourage you to saturate your heart and mind in the Word of God, to increasingly depend on the Spirit to instruct you in the Truth of His Word (as He promises to do) and spend quality time growing in an abiding relationship with our Risen Savior the Lord Jesus Christ who bought you with His own blood and rose again to give you new life. The more you saturate your heart and mind in the Word, the more you rely on the Spirit and grow in your prayer life; the more the Lord will use your teaching to bless the people of God and equip them to serve Him in His mission of seeking and saving the lost, and making disciples to the glory of His name.