I pray about numerous things regularly. One prayer focuses on my teaching and preaching. It is simple. "God, direct my growth in understanding Your purposes. Guide me as I seek to address the needs of Your people effectively."

As years of teaching pass, my awe of God, the Christ, and the Spirit mushrooms. The effect of years of studying and teaching touches my heart and mind in countless ways. The more I learn, the more I see my ignorance. The more I understand, the more I know that the eternal God exceeds human comprehension. The deeper my insights grow, the more I realize how shallow they are.

Each time that I am privileged to teach or share a sermon, some realizations flood my heart and mind. The objective is not to bring people "to my level of knowledge" (whatever that means). That objective is unworthy of the eternal purposes of God. The objective is not to get people to agree with me. That objective is blind to the war between God and Satan. The objective is not to impress people. That deceitful objective embraces the evil of Matthew 6:1. The objective is not personal gratification and fulfillment. That objective accomplishes Satan's purposes, not God's.

I prayerfully remind myself that my objective is to bring people closer to God by better understanding Jesus Christ.

What do I see from the pulpit? I see: levels of knowledge that run from outright ignorance to well informed; an indescribable mixture of opinions and conclusions; a huge variety of spiritual (and not so spiritual) concepts; contradictory value systems with little in common; insights as different as night and day; and maturity levels that run from helpless infants to those who are wise in their understanding of God.

How can I begin to address the spiritual needs produced by these realities in a single lesson of 30 minutes? I cannot -- not in a month, a year, or a decade of sermons.

In the near future we will use differing formats of worship and study on Sunday evenings. The objective will be to address many different spiritual needs in a variety of formats.

Hopefully, this week we can begin projecting the praise songs in the Sunday morning assembly. The numbers will be projected so that you may use the book or the screen.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 April 1999

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