January 2018

Good morning,

Will any of us ever forget our first sermon? As hard as I've tried, I can't. It was titled, Called to Abundant Labors. Obviously the title was assigned.

In fact, the whole idea was cooked up by the cruel busybodies on the Christian Education Committee. They thought it would be great sport if a couple of ministry-minded teenagers would preach on a Sunday night. You know… a church's version of American Idol.

The evening service opened as they always did, a little singing, boring announcements, an offering, and then it was our turn. The other guy spoke first. At fourteen, we were the same age and, I assumed, of equal talent. I was wrong.

He started smoothly, opening with a little joke. I feigned a laugh. He gestured confidently. The crowd seemed impressed. His three points were alliterated. He was quickly getting on my nerves. He quoted scripture from memory, followed by the pastor's loud, "Amen!" My competition was on a roll.

Please God, make him stop! When he finished, the place erupted with cheers.

Then it was my turn. Stepping to the microphone felt ominously like walking the plank. I was too nauseous to be nervous. One final adjustment to my clip-on tie caused it to plop into the standing glass of water, spilling onto my handwritten notes, causing the ink to run. My sermon notes now looked like finger paintings. The crowd began to giggle. My knees weren't knocking, they were missing. I had no joke, no outline, no rhyme or reason.

Twelve minutes later I was done. The church was besieged in cold-sweats. My mother took her first breath. The pastor cringed. The angels wept. It was the worst night of my life.

And God, in His still small voice, said, "Get used to it, kid, I've called you to preach." Suddenly the words, "He uses the foolish things of this world…" had a whole new meaning. Balaam's donkey looked awfully familiar.

Preaching is the centerpiece of pastoring—the non-negotiable in the job description. It serves as the main entree at every worship service, evokes the highest compliments and fuels the hottest critiques. More times than not our preaching is how our people define us.

Debates rage over what constitutes a great sermon. Is it cleaver oratory? Is it crowd-pleasing analogies? Is it demonstrative passion? Is it the congregation's response?

According to scripture, great preaching has little to do with the size of our talent and everything to do with the size of our God—stumbling, bumbling Peter, on The Day of Pentecost, was proof positive.

Proclaiming God's word was never meant to be show-and-tell for a man and his gift. Great preaching is simply the spoken word opening the written word to proclaim the Incarnate Word.

A head count in the prayer-room isn't a success-barometer either. Nor does a beautiful venue make preaching great, otherwise John Bunyan's prison cell disqualified him.

Not even social injustice can negate great preaching. Otherwise, Richard Allen—born into slavery, preaching regularly at the plantation—could never have led his slave-owner to Christ.

Church opposition can't stop God's word either. If it could, John Wycliffe would be long forgotten. But, forty-three years after his death, church officials dug up his body, burned his remains, and threw his ashes into the river. His crime had been to declare "sola scriptura" on all matters of doctrine and practice. Those critics have been long forgotten, yet Wycliffe's work continues.

Jesus was revolutionary in His preaching style. In an era when the Pharisees were conjugating verbs and dictating laws, Jesus showcased God's everlasting love. Jesus wasn't so concerned with the art of preaching as much as He was the heart of preaching.

In a single prayer, Jesus gave us the clue to His brilliant technique: "I have given them Thy words."

"And the multitudes loved listening to Him."


Ron Walters
Senior Vice President
Ministry Relations

© Copyright 2018 by Ron Walters

Ron Walters

You may freely share anything in this letter with your church or ministry. I ask only that you include this byline: "Provided by Ron Walters, Sr. VP Ministry Relations, Salem Media Group," and that you link back to this website (if you reprint online).

Station Message

Happy New Year, Pastor! Thanks for taking the time to enjoy Ron Walters’ monthly letter. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment and subscribe to receive the Pastors’ Letter via email; the Newsletter Signup link is at the top of our homepage at

So much ahead in 2018! We look forward to our annual Pastors Breakfast April 12 with keynote speaker Dr. Robert Jeffress of Pathway to Victory, heard weekdays at 2 and 10:30pm on WFIL. We’re also declaring 2018 to be the Year of the Gospel, and—to that end—I need your help. I’m looking for as many pastors as possible to share the Good News in 60 seconds or less, and send that mp3 recording my way! Our goal is to have dozens of pastors on the air, sharing the Gospel with our many thousands of WFIL listeners in 2018! If you’d like to take part, or want to learn more, email today!

If we can be of service in any way, please don’t hesitate to call or write. WFIL is here to provide support for your ministry, and a platform for your message. Allow me to show you the many ways our broadcast and digital assets can expand your influence in the new year!

Mark Daniels
(610) 729-1216

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