On the last of the three posts on the Church, someone asked a really good question, “What is the purpose of preaching?” Yesterday, one of the men I meet with on a regular basis asked the same question, so in as few words as possible I will try to share what I think the Bible says about this.
First, preaching is commanded, 2 Timothy 4:1 – 2 is clear on this. So the first thing we know is that preaching is a core function of a community of faith. The question one should ask then is it the central purpose. Based on what we looked at in Ephesians 4:11 – 16 it seems that the answer is no. The central focus of the community is to be the equipping of the saints for the work of service. Preaching is to promote this equipping function. How? Educational studies have shown that people will forget 95% of what they hear in 24 – 72 hours depending on which study is quoted. That number can be improved if those hearing can be engaged interactively during the message either through taking notes, responding verbally, or engaging in discussions about the message. But engagement in the message is not necessarily equipping.
2 Timothy3:14 – 17 tells us that the Scripture is what makes us adequate for every good work, not what someone says about it. Hebrews 4:12 – 13 reminds us that the Word of God is living and active, again not what one says or writes about it. The Berean’s response to Paul, in Acts 17:11 is declared “noble-minded.” I would suggest that the purpose of preaching in the community is to increase personal hunger, whet the appetite for, increase curiosity for, and ultimately drive the individual believer to their own personal interaction with the Word of God.
So, in terms of application of this to our families, as dads we should engage in the messages we hear, actively take notes, not just of what the speaker is saying, but of questions that the message raises for us. We need to check out the passages that are referenced and validate the message (Acts 17:11). Then we should think of ways to extend the interaction of our kids with the message (Deuteronomy 6:6 – 7).