Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What's the GDP of Preaching?

That was an excellent, lovely, interesting, challenging....sermon. Is that it? Is that all it's about? You spend hours and days on one sermon and all you get is some adjectives. Gross domestic product (GDP), refers to the market value of all officially recognised final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. Of all "goods and services" produced in a church in a given period, what is the "value" we place on preaching? Try asking those members of the congregation who throw in those adjectives to describe which part of the preaching they find excellent, lovely, interesting and challenging and they will struggle.

Take a particular Sunday worship experience. Which aspects of the worship do you think will be much talked about in hours or few days time? Unless the preaching was really very bad, or something very controversial was said, chances are that the preaching would soon be forgotten. It is not easy to place a value on preaching. The end product of the preaching is not always easy to see. The word of God is sharper than any double -edged sword,  which penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, but we aren't going to see any blood pouring out of any one when the Word of God is preached. If you can't see the end product how are you going to place a value on it?

On the contrary, the end products of other aspects of church life such as the music, healing, children/ youth work, and other mission work are are easy to see and can be valued. For instance some people might be attracted to your church because of your style of music. Some might come because of your healing ministry. Some might come because of your children/ youth ministry. Others might still come because of your mission work in the community or abroad. Very rarely would you hear people say I have come because of your preaching.

I am wondering whether the somewhat lack of real product of preaching has compelled some churches/Ministers to diversify to engage in all sorts of mission work just to make themselves fell popular and important. Many churches have now moved from their primary product which is preaching the Word into other sectors. Many churches are now investing time and energy in things such as the music, book sale, healing service and other voluntary works. Those Pastor/Ministers with no "add ons" are some how marginalised.

I know church's business is not only to prepare people to be exported to heaven. The socio-economic well being of people while on earth are equally important. However, the rate of diversification should be kept in check in order not to lose our primary objective which is to preach the Word. We can sing and dance to the fantastic music and do all the voluntary works in the community but if the Word is lacking, we would become empty barrels- only making the loudest noise.

In our efforts to diversify let us not forget the primary objective of church. Some resources should be kept to strengthen and boost the primary objective which is to preach the Word. In effect when the Word is rightly preached all other things shall be added unto thee. As a Pastor or a Minister what is your work ratio to preaching the Word. Are you over- burdened with other mission work? Think about your call into the ministry. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)