Preaching for Leadership Impact
We all know (or should) that the goal of preaching is life change. We want to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). We want disciples to be made and, thus, fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Preaching is about life change. But, I also believe preaching is one of the most powerful tools of leadership. Pastors who utilize their preaching opportunities as a leadership instrument will increase the fruitfulness of their ministry.
My friend, Ray Johnston of Bayside Church in Sacramento, says that ordinary people become extraordinary communicators when they are fired with conviction—which then translates into passion—which then translates into impact. Leadership impact happens when we couple our leadership passion and preaching for the powerful purposes of God among our people. John Maxwell says one way to determine your passion is to ask, “What makes you cry? What makes you sing? What makes you dance?” Answering those questions will draw you closer to the passion that God has placed within you.
Every leader has a vision from God for the future that is compelling for his people. Habakuk 2:2 tells us to “write the vision and make it plain." Preachers who preach for leadership impact recognize the opportunity to cast vision whenever they speak from the pulpit. Many of us who preach find it far easier to simply explain the text and apply it to the individual lives of our hearers from a pastoral perspective. While this is noble, it is insufficient. When a pastor stands before his people, there is an opportunity to fulfill the Old Testament roles of prophet, priest, and king. The leadership role is a prophetic and kingly assignment that the preacher can best fulfill by intentionally asking the tough questions of himself and of the Biblical text.
Leaders automatically are question-askers—and the questions they ask of the Biblical text relate to their roles as leaders of the people of God. Here are some basic questions (I think I first got a version of these from Dan Reiland) that leaders believe the text asks of them and the contrast between the purely pastoral questions. These are admittedly quite broad, but they hint at the key differences
Pastoral Questions Leadership Questions
What does it say? What does it mean?
What does it mean to me? What does it mean to us?
What should I do? What changes should we make?
How does this speak to my present? How does this speak to our future?
Kingdom impact increases in our ministry when we recognize that we are preaching BOTH to the individual and to the congregation. Both are needed, and the effective preacher is both aware of the opportunity and the privilege to address both needs.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us that we should “speak only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. As leaders who preach, we are to use the pulpit as a faithful tool for declaring God’s will for individuals AND building up the local body of believers that we lead. Preachers who communicate with excellence are preachers who exercise leadership in and through the pulpit on a regular basis.