As River Road Church seeks its new senior pastor, there are many qualities the congregation will desire – and expect – in this person. Emotional intelligence, leadership skills, warmth, integrity, and charisma are likely to be among the characteristics a church family searches for in the individual it calls as pastor.
There is another ability the church still values today, which is as ancient as the church itself: the gift of proclamation. High on anyone’s list of expectations for the pastor is that he or she can competently prepare and compellingly deliver a sermon that links holy scripture and contemporary life. In addition to scouring resumes, checking references, and conducting interviews, a pastor search committee inevitably devotes considerable time to listening to sermons by the candidates under consideration. Whether or not a pastoral candidate is deemed capable of effective preaching is a key element in the selection process.
With this in mind, I commend to you an article by Bob Kaylor, Senior Writer for the preaching resource journal Homiletics. Drawing on advice first offered by the 18th century preacher George Whitfield, Kaylor lists ways that those who find themselves in the pews listening to sermons can have a more rewarding experience doing so.
- Come ready to hear. Our first task is not to evaluate the sermon nor to be entertained, but to open ourselves to hearing a word from God. 0
- Listen attentively and expectantly for what the Lord reveals through the scripture and through the proclaimer. Preaching, at its best, is about call and response.
- Focus on the message rather than on the messenger. What is being said is far more important than who says it or even how he or she says it.
- Apply what you are hearing to your life. Preaching is intended to change minds, hearts and lives.
- Devote time to prayer and reflection – before, during and after the sermon. Pray for the proclaimer and pray for the transformation of yourself and of others.
Following these few basic guidelines can go a long way toward forging an effective link between the preacher and the congregation. Your next pastor, whoever that may be, will appreciate your efforts. I trust you are keeping the Pastor Search Committee in your prayers. Their responsibility is a large one. May God lead them to the pastor/proclaimer best suited for the call to be River Road Church, Baptist’s next leader.