Preaching: Before and After

I'm currently reading Mark Dever's and Greg Gilbert's book Preach: Theology Meets Practice. In Chapter 8: "Delivering the Sermon" I came across some of the most helpful advice for before and after delivering the sermon.


"Is there anything quite like the few seconds right before you open your mouth and begin to preach? The music is done, everything is quiet, all eyes in the building are on you. You step to the pulpit, open your Bible, lay out your notes on the podium...and pause. Or at least I do. For just two seconds--maybe three--I pause before I begin speaking and let my eyes scan the congregation, maybe even make a split-second's eye contact with some people...It's to remind myself why I'm there, to press into my own heart one last time the enormity of what I'm doing. 'These people,' I think, 'belong to Jesus. They are His. He loved them, He spilled His blood for them, and He has put all the resources of omnipotence behind his determination to bring them safely home. And now, for the next hour, He's putting them...in my hands. To teach them and encourage them.'"

And after...

"Few preachers who preach God's Word feel great when the sermon's done. I'm usually thinking about everything I didn't have time to say or even a few things I did say that I wish I hadn't. Then the time for the benediction slips up on me, I give it, and then I sneak to the back door to talk with people as they walk out. Sometimes people come to talk, and I'm humbled and encouraged by the ways they say the Lord used the sermon in their lives. Other times no one says much of anything, which bothers me more than I wish it did.

But the immediate feedback--as much as we crave the instant gratification--isn't the point. A pastorate is made up of a lot of sermons, and the fact is, most of those sermons are going to be singles rather than triples or home runs. But that's fine. If the Lord is so kind as to give you even a long string of singles, that's purely of His grace, and your congregation will benefit and grow from that. You score runs with a string of singles. So don't worry if you haven't hit a home run in a while--and if you hit one today, don't get cocky! Either way, go home, rest, thank God for the grace He gave you to teach and encourage His people again, take some time off, and then start the whole process over the next week. Our God is a good God, and week after week, sermon after sermon, He will give grace and strength and insight to the men who preach His Word."

Good, good stuff.