Part 2 – Worthy of double honor | Expository advocating
Editors note: Find Part one of this series here. Prepare The last thing a pastor or preacher wants to think is that he is the only one prepared for Sunday morning. That doesn’t mean you need to write your own sermon during the week, but you might be surprised how much more you get…
Editors note: Find Part one of this series here.
The last thing a pastor or preacher wants to think is that he is the only one prepared for Sunday morning. That doesn’t mean you need to write your own sermon during the week, but you might be surprised how much more you get out of your Sunday mornings by simply being more prepared.
The truth is that Sunday morning begins on Saturday night. There are a number of extremely practical ways to be prepared for worship, all for the purpose of removing potential distractions and obstacles. On the physical side, consider laying out and ironing clothes for yourself and your family the night prior, be sure that the car is gassed up, pack any bags with Bibles and diapers and whatever else you bring as a family, make sure the alarms are set, get plenty of rest the night before, have breakfast planned and ready to go for the morning. All of these things, as simple as they may seem, will eliminate potential distractions on Sunday morning.
You don’t need to make a rule out of these things; we all know that life happens, but they are helpful means of removing potential stumbling blocks. You might think they’re unimportant, but Satan will use anything he can to keep God’s people from fully engaging in worship.
There are, of course, ways to be spiritually prepared as well. Take some time to pray alone or as a family, confess sins to one another that need to be confessed, sing songs of praise together at dinner on Saturday and read Scripture together. In fact, there’s a way you can read Scripture in preparation for worship that just may be the most significant way to prepare for worship. This isn’t something I thought up myself, rather, the Lord’s dear people at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., where I pastor, have encouraged me in this way and I’m offering it so the blessing can be multiplied.
Here’s what you do: find out what text is going to be preached, and read the passage before you come to church. It’s simple and it’s good for you and it will encourage your pastor.
There are different ways to do it. Maybe you could read the sermon text at the breakfast table before you go to church, or maybe sometime on Saturday will work better for you. There are a number of ways your pastor will be encouraged by this: he’ll be encouraged by your asking what he’ll preach, and your telling him that you’re asking because you like to read the passage in preparation for worship. He’ll be encouraged when you ask him after church how to understand something you saw in the text that he didn’t have time to address in the sermon. He’ll be encouraged to see the Spirit of God drawing you to the Word of God – getting to hear that you’re reading the Bible will be like the farmer seeing fruit on those vines he’s been tending – what a joy to know that the people you serve are reading the Bible! He’ll be encouraged if you tell him you had trouble seeing the relevance of the passage, or understanding it, and then were helped by his sermon. He’ll be encouraged to hear that his sermon made you want to go back and read the passage more carefully, or to meditate on it more. He’ll be encouraged when you tell him that his preaching has helped you to become a better Bible reader.
Most importantly, he’ll be encouraged to see you apply the sermon by walking in the truth. One elder wrote about the people in the churches he served: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). In fact, he said that kind of thing repeatedly (cf., 1 John 1:4; 2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:3-4). Nothing will encourage your pastor like giving him the joy of seeing you walk in the truth. Read the sermon text before church on Sunday and be conformed to the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another.
James M. Hamilton Jr. is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary. He has written and contributed to a number of works including What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns. You can read more by Hamilton at his blog Jimhamilton.info. Also, follow him on Twitter: @DrJimHamilton. This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Towers.
Matt Damico is an M.Div graduate of Southern Seminary and is currently serving as the pastor of worship at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. You can follow Matt on twitter at: @mattpdamico or at MattDamico.wordpress.com.