It dawned on me last night when I stood on the platform, being interviewed at City Church Manchester. "It" was the importance of the sermon, particularly how many times I need to hear one each week.
Shannan and I are in the U.K. to visit with church planting and educational partners in Liverpool, Oxford, and Manchester. It has been a fabulous trip. Check out my Instagram or Facebook feed for some of this journey in pictures.
Here's how I came up with nine sermons a week.
First, I need to sit under the preaching/teaching of the Word of God weekly. God tells his leaders, "preach the word" and he says to his people, "do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together."
Because, as Country & Western artists Montgomery/Gentry remind me, "a Sunday sermon can turn your life around." I saw that in my own life yesterday through the timely messages I received from those who preached at Christ Church and City Church. In each case, God used his preacher to speak through His word to my soul.
Second, I need the "preaching" that comes through worship with the people of God. Why does God call us over and over again in the Psalms to worship? Because worship forces the trajectory of our perspective up!
I can get caught living under the clouds of doubt, difficulties, and despair. Worship points me upward through those clouds to God who is bigger than me . . . who is intimately acquainted me with me . . . and who loves me.
Looking up my soul is raised up.
This happened twice yesterday in very real ways. My soul dries up apart from regularly worshiping with the people of God. When I gather for worship. God renews me.
Third, I need that daily "preaching the gospel to myself." The Psalmist said to himself, "Put your hope in God" (Psalm 42). He was preaching to himself. I need that too. I need the daily reminder that:
- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
- I will never leave you or abandon you. Hebrews 13:5
- Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6
I need to remind myself, challenge myself, encourage myself -- and at times rebuke myself -- with the truth of God's word.
So here's my sermon math:
1 Sunday Message + 1 Sunday Worship + 7 Daily Preachings = 9 sermons a week.
I hope you get the picture. In the end it isn't so much a number, but a lifestyle of absorbing the truth, goodness, and life-giving power of God's Word through every available means God gives.