A few weeks ago we sat under the ministry of Walter C. Kaiser Jr., at Wesley Acres, about 140 miles east of Toronto and little more than shouting distance from Lake Ontario. Dr. Kaiser is a Bible scholar of note and former president of Gordon Conwell Seminary near Boston.
The congregations relished his rich Biblical insights as he preached from 1 Kings and Ecclesiastes — the latter a mysterious book, no longer quite so mysterious. What he had to teach was served up with little touches of humor that kept everyone alert and at the ready.
Listening to him, one came away with a keen sense that he has an unflinching concern that seminary-trained pastors give careful attention to the text of the Bible for every sermon. To make this clear, in one aside he placed his index finger on his text and raised the other arm high in the air, saying, “Preach with one finger on the text and the other arm in the air to make gestures. Then when that arm gets tired, move its index finger to the text and raise the other arm to make gestures.”
On another occasion, he said, somewhat wryly, “I recommend that pastors preach one topical sermon — every five years.” His point was clear that every sermon should at least be an effort at good, clear expository preaching. That is, it should assure that by study and prayer the sermon grows out of the text, rather than simply being imposed on the text, or worse still, not even having a text. A congregation deserves better!
On this continent, there are good Bible-grounded preachers aplenty but there needs to be more of them. And whenever a pulpit serves up thin gruel, it is not entirely the preacher’s fault. Congregations usually get what they will settle for. A congregation shows its values on this matter by the quality of study facilities it provides, the prayers it prays for the pastor through the week, the commendations it gives when sermons connect, and message it gives to the sending body at times of pastoral change: Send us someone who is serious about the preaching task as well as gifted in other aspects of pastoring.