Whether you call it teaching or preaching, the message in your main service leads your church. It’s core to what makes your church … your church. In fact, in a very real sense your community is simply gathered around the main teaching at your church. Here are ways that teaching is leading your church:
• Critical to Church Growth—At the core of every fast-growing church is great preaching. [ref] It’s probably the common factor across churches of all different types: charismatic, reformed, emergent, evangelical, traditional, liberal. It’s one of the main reasons people invite their friends to attend church. If teaching is an afterthought and not a focus of the senior leader’s role, the church will flounder.
• Culture Shaping—Language defines reality. What you talk about is what becomes important to your culture. Over the long haul, it shapes the people who are on your team. It defines the sort of people who are attracted to join your team. It sets the pace for what your community talks about … and those conversations end up becoming your culture.
• Sets the Level of Transparency —If you are transparent in your teaching and let people see the real you, it will lead to people in your church being open with one another. If you are emotionally distant in your preaching, your church will end up being closed-off and people won’t feel at liberty to share what’s really happening in their lives. People take cues from the public teaching about what their personal level of transparency should be.
• Defines Who Isn’t Welcome—Do you always tell stories about what it’s like to be a parent? You may be inadvertently excluding singles in your community because they don’t “see” themselves in your messages. If you are the youth pastor who gets the opportunity to speak on Sunday morning and you only reference students in your message, you exclude the majority of your audience. Use stories from a wide variety of backgrounds in your messages to draw in various “segments” of your community.
• Leads the Theological Conversation—If there is an important shift happening theologically or philosophically in your church leadership, use the main message on Sunday to lead that conversation. As your beliefs or views shift, people need to be brought along on that journey so they can see how you are growing. No amount of “position papers” or “theological texts” can make up for a series of great messages.
• Most Listened-to Communications Channel—Every other way you communicate at your church is less listened to than the main service message. If it’s important to your church, it needs to be a part of the message. No announcement time can touch the impact that a single sub-point in a message can make. There aren’t enough stamps in the country to reach the level of effectiveness of a single message that informs your community about an upcoming initiative. Many teachers don’t want to abuse their preaching time by peppering in “announcements” … but seeing your message connect to something your church is doing as a practical next step is healthy when used conservatively.