If you’re a ministry leader or pastor, you’re probably already aware that preparation is key in leading an effective group or delivering a powerful message. Successful leaders know it’s always good idea to take the appropriate time and effort to study God’s word, plan their message, and review their notes or study guides before they teach.
But what happens when you do all these things and it seems like the impact of your teaching falls flat, like God didn’t show up to the extent to which you thought He would?
In a three-part interview, veteran pastors Chip Ingram and Francis Chan tackle some of the toughest challenges that ministry leaders face today. In the first part of the interview, together they reveal the most important part of preparation that a leader can do: It’s to cultivate an ongoing deep, rich relationship with God.
In other words, it’s our personal experience with God and living out His word that becomes the conduit for accessing God’s power and speaking effectively on His behalf.
Francis mentions how in 1 Corinthians 2:4 the Apostle Paul talks about preaching not with wise and persuasive words, “but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”
Francis admits that there have been times in his own life when he struggled with functioning solely with his own strength and talents versus those times when he was “locked in” with the Holy Spirit. He says he could always tell afterward that something was missing.
Francis points out that people didn’t marvel at Jesus and the disciples simply because they were good teachers but because of their authority and power. This type of authority and power can only come from having an abiding relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Chip, who grew up in a non-Christian home, also attests to this truth. He shares that he was “deeply impacted not by people who were great communicators, but by their life.”
“I think we can preach Biblical, accurate, clear, oratory messages and God honors our gift,” he says. “But I don’t think there’s power [in the message] unless there’s an abiding with God and integrity -- so that what I’m saying and how I’m living are integrated and tell the same story.”
Chip says that when he’s teaching he makes sure that he’s been with God beforehand and that he has heard God speaking to him. “So that as far as I know, I am putting [my message] into practice,” he says. And when that happens the power comes.
“The Spirit of God has to work in us before He can work through us.”
See the entire interview below.