Because I have never met a preacher who didn't believe that their preaching was anything other than done in the power of the Spirit!
And then you add on top of that, that there might be no greater battleground in the body of Christ than the person and work of the Spirit.
It's impossible to preach with prophetic authority when you are preaching yourself or the latest and greatest wisdom of the world.
But as I write this article, I am going to try my best to unpack what I believe preaching in the power of the Spirit actually looks like.
Are you ready? Here are four practices that help me stay connected to the power of the Spirit throughout the sermon process.
The Spirit of God inspired the Word of God. Of course every preacher has read this passage: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So plain and simple. This passage means that if your preaching isn't centered on the Word of God, no matter how charismatic you may be, you are not preaching in the power of Spirit.
Boom! (Mic Drop).
I actually think that it is unfortunate that I have to write that. But I do because we live in a day and age, where much "preaching" is really just the pastor telling stories about themselves or anecdotes taken out of some illustration book. Sure, maybe there is a Scripture mentioned here and there. But oftentimes, in those situations, the Bible is used as window dressing instead the foundation, the engineering, and the floor plan of the sermon.
My friends, if you preach the Word of God, you know that you are preaching in the power of the Spirit.
I love to remind people that my job is to "hide behind the Word." It's impossible to preach with prophetic authority when you are preaching yourself or the latest and greatest wisdom of the world. But when you are proclaiming God's Word, you can speak boldly because God says what he means and means what he says.
As I've gotten older and more seasoned in the pulpit, I find myself bathing the messages in prayer more than I ever have. I've realized that one of the keys to preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit is having the message drenched in prayer. That's right. Drenched. Sloppy and soaking wet!
Here's why: the Spirit of God knows who is going to be present when the message is proclaimed. The Spirit also knows all the people who are going to hear the message at a later date on other mediums rather than when it is proclaimed. I know for us at Crossroads Community Church, the messages end up on the radio, television, Facebook, YouTube, podcast, etc. You name the medium and we seek to utilize it. God knows every single person who will interact with the Word preached, no matter the medium. God is so passionate for them that Jesus came on a rescue mission and he will use whatever means necessary to reach them.
When we drench the messages in prayer, we are creating the space for the Lord to nuance ideas and phrases, not to mention reform our hearts, in such a way that his perfect plan can unfold in people's lives. It's not only what we say. It's also how we say it. There is something unique and supernatural about how the Lord can reshape your heart and mind when you are seeking his heart and mind in prayer over the message.
Are you drenching the messages in prayer? Are you allowing the Spirit of God to minister the hidden things that he desires to effect in you in the time leading up to your preaching? Let us enter the pulpit drenched in the power of his presence.
People prepare for things that matter—their financial future, their vacations, their weekend meals. Preparation is necessary for execution. But the more something matters to you, the more you will engage in stringent preparation. Imagine launching a space shuttle full of humans into orbit. That is pretty significant. The preparation protocol is huge because of the importance and risk involved. Remember a shuttle launch's preparation is way more extensive than your preparation to drive your car.
In the same way, when we ascend into the pulpit, eternity is on the line. We are handling the very Word of God. How we speak of Jesus will radically affect people's lives. A surgeon prepares for surgery with intense precision. How much more should preachers prepare for the spiritual endeavor of God performing heart surgery on the congregation? We must be prepared.
As pastors, though, there are a million reasons why we might find ourselves in the pulpit under-prepared. We don't just preach the Word. We also find ourselves in the lives of the congregation and the staff. Crisis, unfortunately, is a normal part of our work. Not to mention all the dynamics of the operations of the church: buildings, insurance, etc. And then include all of the activities within our family. Having preparation time absorbed into a million other things happens all the time.
So what are we to do? We must carve out and protect our preparation time. We need to make non-negotiable time to ensure that we are completely prepared for the task at hand. Jesus reminded us to count the cost of any endeavor before embarking upon it.
Let's face it. It is not easy to preach in the power of the Spirit if we have no clue, or just a little clue, of what the Lord wants to do in the lives of people over the text that we are proclaiming. So let us be uber-prepared.
If we are teaching people the Scriptures and drenching the message in prayer we are on the way. If we are well prepared to stand in the pulpit then we are ready to go. But finally, in the actual act of preaching, we need to be free indeed.
Do you go into the pulpit and let yourself go?
When many people think of the power of the Spirit, they think about it in terms of a spontaneous activity. The Spirit moves in an instant and in a unique way. Since you have made it thus far, you will see that I also believe that the Spirit can do unique work at every step of the journey. The Spirit can move as we read the Word, pray, and prepare.
But the Spirit also wants to move uniquely as we proclaim the Word. What if in the moment the Spirit wants to speak through you in a way that you aren't prepared? What if, at the moment of proclamation, the Spirit prompts you to go in a different direction? Are you available? Are you willing?
Preachers, if you know the text and the heart of God, and if you are completely well prepared, then by all means, let yourself go. Allow yourself to be a vehicle, in the moment, to the leadings and prerogatives of the Almighty God.
Daniel Fusco is the Lead Pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA.