you never know who you are preaching to

By April 9, 2013Preaching

As a preacher and communicator, I am a big proponent of knowing who you are speaking to.  As John Stott reminded us, we who preach live in “two worlds” — the world of the Bible and our own world.  Fred Craddock taught us that good preaching flows out of a preacher who knows his God and his people.

Therefore, I try to craft my messages with my audience in mind.  I think through different life situations and scenarios.  Before I head for the stage, I usually look around and remind myself who is in the room.

But I never know everybody.  This was brought home to me once again this past Sunday.

After our first service, a young lady and her mother stopped to thank me for the service.  As they spoke, the young lady began crying — and I mean really crying.  Like sobbing.  The mother apologized and then said this (and I’ll paraphrase): “This is our first time here.  Her two year-old son just died this past Friday.”

I immediately moved the three of us off to the side, to a place where we could speak without being interrupted.  We spoke for about ten minutes.  Those ten minutes reoriented the rest of my morning.  Needless to say, they added a whole new dimension to the next service.

Later that night I received an email from the young mom.  Part of it read, “The Onward message and music moved me in such a way to help me in my grieving.”

I must confess: as I prepped that message, having a grieving mom who just lost her two year-old son in audience was not on my mind.  It will be next time, and not that it will happen every time I preach (I sure hope not!).  But it was a sobering reminder that I never fully know who I am speaking to on any given weekend.

May it be a reminder to you as well.  Whenever we step into the pulpit we represent God and his message to panoply of people who come from a variety of backgrounds, carrying different hopes and hurts.

My prayer is that God will use each of us to serve his purpose, in his time, in his way.

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  • Ken, I have always loved reading your writings. You have such a way of scripting words to paint such a picture. Your words have always painted the heart of Christ to me. My heart goes out to this mom and how her heart must be breaking. I’m glad God used you to share some words of Hope and encouragement to her.