Religion Magazine

Responsibly Irresponsible

By Richardl @richardlittleda

Licensed to preach?

I come from a tradition where people are not ‘licensed’ to preach.  If somebody shows promise we train them, encourage them, and let them exercise the gift.  In general I like the approach.  However, what it may do is minimise the appreciation of quite what an awesome responsibility it is to preach the Word of God. Charles Spurgeon once asked the question “who, when called to be a preacher, would stop to be a king”?  It truly is an awesome responsibility. Often, when training new preachers, I show them the symbols below and ask them which one represents preaching for them. For some it may be the one in the center – a traditional view of preaching where the one passes on word and wisdom to the many.  Others may see it as the one on the right – where experiential truth is recycled in the light of scripture. For me the most potent is the symbol of the ‘meeting point’ on the left. Preaching is a place where eternal truth and temporal experience collide. In a sense, preaching is sacramental, where the presence of God is experienced, with all the consequences that may entail.



Today I shall be preaching on the story of Abram’s departure on his journey of faith as found in Genesis 12. Under God’s direction he severs every anchor which has held his life hitherto, and departs into the unknown. We shall look at the importance of weighing anchor, weighing the consequences and way-marks. (Different spelling fully intended) I tremble, though, when I think about the consequences of preaching such a word.

On my first Sunday back in church after 3 months away I spoke to a young couple who are about to uproot from leafy West London and relocate to Khartoum. On any scale it is a massive move, fraught with challenges. When I commented on this, they responded with a smile that I could not preach the way I do and not expect such consequences. Whilst many factors have led to their move, the preached word of God is part of the story, and I am honoured (and slightly terrified) to have played my part.

Are you being irresponsibly responsible in the pulpit today, I wonder?

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