The crowds were astonished when they heard Jesus, "for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." Congregations are starving for the astonishment of hearing the preacher teach and preach on the authority of the Word of God. If there is a crisis in preaching, it is a crisis of confidence in the Word. If there is a road to recovery, it will be mapped by a return to biblical preaching.
Our hope and prayer is that you will go forth from here to fulfill a ministry of astonishment. To preach and teach and minister so that commas as turned back to periods, and question marks into exclamation points. Congregations long to have the thunderbolts brought down from the attic and loosed in their midst. They are starving for a word from God.
Go and astonish a church. Go and astonish the nations. Go and astonish sinners and saints alike. Go and astonish your generation. Go and astonish those who no longer even believe that they can be astonished.
Go and preach as one who has authority. Just remember always that the only true authority for ministry is biblical authority. May we always be mindful that the only authority that matters is God's authority, and that God's thunderbolts are what we must fear . . . and what we must seek.
If you go out and preach as one who has authority, you will be constantly amazed by what God does through the preaching of his Word. You will see those who hear you astonished -- and no one will be more astonished than yourself.
But the need for newness is not the primary need of the hour. The problem is not that most people need a new way of hearing the Gospel, but that most people have never heard it all. My goal each week is not to give what the people in front of me will perceive as a "new approach" to the Gospel, but simply to explain the really old Gospel in as clear a way as possible to them.
The desire to be new can also keep you from the one task God has given the church... not the discovery of something new, but the revelation of something old. Sticking to clear explication of the old will make you relevant. As G. K. Chesterton said, "If you marry the times, you'll soon become a widower." Or, H. D. Thoreau, "Read not the times, read the eternities."