Recently, one of our supporting churches in the United States sent me a list of questions aimed at understanding our ministry in Wales more fully. After reflecting on my answers, I thought that others might be interested to read some of them and so I plan to post those here (slightly edited for a more general audience) over the next couple of weeks. This is the third installment of the series: click here to read Part 1 or Part 2.
What place does preaching play in the gathering of God’s people?
By â€œpreachingâ€ I assume you are referring to a particular style of communicating Godâ€™s Word that might also be described using some or all of the following words: monologue, exposition, sermon, from a pulpit, or from the front. In this style, a particular Scripture passage or biblical theme would be carefully studied and explained in detail by a (preferably) seminary-trained and ordained man who meets the biblical qualifications of an elder.
When I first moved to Wales, I believed that â€œpreachingâ€ could only be defined by the above framework and that faithful, passionate, biblical exposition would always result in healthy, fully-alive, reproducing congregations of Godâ€™s people. We began attending the Reformed evangelical congregations scattered across the tiny nation of Wales and I was immediately struck with the amazing quality of such preaching in nearly every single church.
But I was appalled to see that the average congregation numbered twenty-three persons and that many of these churches could be described as cold, lifeless, and unmotivated concerning their own spiritual vitality or the evangelization of their immediate communities. Nearly all of these churches were established as part of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jonesâ€™ legacy: in the second half of the twentieth century he issued a call for true believers to come out of the dead mainline denominations and establish independent evangelical chapels throughout Wales. In those chapels today, the â€œexpositorâ€ model continues each week with fewer and fewer people sitting in the pew. Continue reading