When we preach we tend to think about the people sitting in front of us. Rightly so. Whatever the size or apparent significance of this group of listeners, they are the ones God has prepared and convened for the public preaching of His Word, and so this is a key moment.
However, that Sunday sermon is also a platform for other ministries. Let’s consider three:
1. Your other ministries. While we don’t want to develop prideful delusions of grandeur, it is good to consider how to be a steward of your ministry. The best thing you could do might be to put all your energy into improving what you do as a preacher. But you might also consider whether the work that went into that sermon might feed into a shortened recorded summary for a different audience, or a blog post, or an article, or a book chapter, or a set of tweets, or whatever. You may not have the global reach of some famous author/speakers, but if there are some people that would benefit, why not make best use of the work you have already invested in a message?
2. Your listeners’ ministries. The people listening to you are not just there to be blessed. They are also there to be developed and launched in their own ministries. How is your preaching shaping the way they handle the Bible, communicate gospel truth, trust God in their spheres of service? While every sermon will have its primary goals that you prayerfully hope to achieve which tend to be unique to each sermon, don’t forget that there are some secondary effects that also matter – how your listeners are motivating and trained to handle the Bible, how your listeners are equipped for ministry, etc.
3. Your church’s ministries. The sermon you preach on Sunday is not just about that slice of time and those people in their response to it. It also sets the tone for all the other word ministries of the church. How is the Bible treated in small groups, or taught in Sunday School, or trusted in youth ministry, or seen as relevant in counseling, or birthing spiritual conversations, etc. Sunday’s sermon will, especially over time, set the tone for the word-based ministries of the church throughout the week – both formal and informal.
Preach to the people in front of you, but prayerfully ponder how the Sunday sermon can shape more than just that moment.