Preach Less – Minister More?

Over the weekend at APC, I used a timer and attempted to keep my message to within a 30 minute time-frame.  Guess what?  I succeeded.  I shared a message in under 30 minutes.  This is not a commonality in the ‘tribe’ of churches from which I am part.  It hasn’t been all that common for me.

Now, I have never been accused of being long-winded.  Typically, I speak between 35 and 4o minutes in length.  But often what has occurred is this.  I tend to speak to the deadline of whatever I perceive to be the ‘end of the service’.  So if the service is supposed to end at 10:30am, then I speak until 10:29am.

This past weekend, I spoke less and left room at the end of the service for a season of application and ministry.  We served communion.  We took our time.  We worshiped.  I guided people to pray and praise in very specific ways that applied the ‘word’ to their lives.  It was a powerful time of shared encounter with God.

Is it possible that we preach too long and minister too little?  There is a difference between the two you know.

#1 – Preaching is often focused on the material and the messenger.

As a speaker I am concerned with delivering the truth of the message and on what I have to say in doing so.   We judge preaching by fidelity to the Word, by its practicality to aid someone to understand or obey, and by its skillful delivery and oratory.

We can preach a great message and that has a ‘ministry’ component to it in and of itself.  And yet, often great preaching call fall short without sensitive and focused ministry to the person who has received what we have said.

#2 – Ministry is focused on the hearer and on the Holy Spirit’s ‘now’ activity in the life of the one receiving the ‘word.’

It’s taking the Word and making it personal.  It’s skillful connection between the person hearing the word (and their live issues) and the Word of God itself which has the capacity to heal, liberate, and save.

We measure ‘ministry time’ by how much people are transformed by the Holy Spirit’s work in what they have heard and applied.  When we minister, we are less concerned with oratory skills and properly outlining.  Ministry is more like a conversation.  It involves tuning in to what is going on in the room.

One who is good a ‘ministry moments’ in the service has the ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, read the reactions of the congregation, and sensitively bring the two of them together in some type of response to what God wants us all to do.

My sense is that people would prefer less ‘preaching’ (is anyone asking for longer sermons) and more ‘ministry’ (because we all need help in applying what God wants us to do).

What do you think?