If you want to learn something about longevity and effectiveness as a preacher, keep your eyes on Donald Trump.
Love him or hate him, the Donald is on quite a roll these days. He’s surging in the polls and his face seems to be everywhere. It almost seems like the more outrageous his statements become, the bigger his brand gets.
He has become the poster child for a culture that rewards shock value, at least in the short run.
His rise is emblematic of a trap that snares so many young preachers. It’s one I’ve fallen into from time to time. If you say some outrageous things, tell some borderline stories and use some edgy language to “keep it real”, you’ll probably get some attention for yourself. It’ll feel great in the moment and you’ll laugh at voices that urge you to build your ministry on something deeper. After all, your numbers are soaring.
That’s where Trump comes in. He’s headed for an implosion. His campaign is a lot like spring break – short, raucous while it lasts and filled with regret afterwards. You don’t want the same thing to be said of your ministry!
Don’t settle for short term notoriety when God wants you to have long term impact. Real impact is rooted in years of faithfulness, humility, work and grace. It doesn’t come through one killer illustration. It comes through dozens of faithful sermons. Real impact requires a deep foundation in the Word of God.
It’s the Word of God that revives souls (Ps. 119:25), is living and active (Heb. 4:12) and is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). The gospel doesn’t need gimmicks, only faithful heralds. Yes, tell the story of grace creatively, authentically, engagingly, winsomely and with every ounce of strength God provides. Great truth deserves a great presentation. But keep Christ the center, feed your sheep the eternal words of God, root them in the gospel and pray God would be pleased to bear fruit. Teach them that good theology and the abundant life go hand in hand.
Don’t be the Donald Trump of preachers. Learn patterns when you’re young that pave the way for decades of effective, gospel shaped preaching.