In a day when many pastors are downplaying serious study of God’s word and the necessary time for their own sermon preparation, I found this quote from Andrew Perves bracing and prophetic:
To ministers let me say this as strongly as I can. Preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ.
Get out of your offices and get into your studies.
Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committees, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of the Word and sacraments.
Pick up good theology books again: hard books, classical texts, great theologians.
Claim the energy and time to study for days and days at a time.
Disappear for long hours because you are reading Athanasius on the person of Jesus Christ or Wesley on sanctification or Augustine on the Trinity or Calvin on the Christian life or Andrew Murray on the priesthood of Christ. Then you will have something to say that’s worth hearing.
Remember that exegesis is for preaching and teaching; it has no other use.
So get out those tough commentaries and struggle in depth with the texts.
Let most of what you do be dominated by the demands of the sermon as if your whole life and reason for being is to preach Christ, because it is.
Claim a new authority for the pulpit, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, over you and your people.
Commit yourself again to ever more deeply becoming a careful preacher of Christ.
Don’t preach to grow your congregation; preach to bear witness to what the Lord is doing, and let him grow your church.
Dwell in him, abide in him, come to know him ever more deeply and convertedly.
Tell the people what he has to say to them, what he is doing among them and within them, and what it is he wants them to share in.
He is up to something in your neighborhood, if you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
Develop a christological hermeneutic for all you do and say. Why? Because there is no other name, that’s why.
Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ (IVP, 2007), 44-45.