In the past few decades, due to the systematization and popularization of theological education and preacher training in the Chinese church, a large number of excellent pastors have emerged. According to a senior preacher in Eastern China, it is more important to preach "the heart of God" than to "preach well”.
Starting to preach soon after his baptism in the late 1980s, Rev. Meng Mingcheng (pseudonym for safety reasons) soon became full-time in his ministry, which he still is today. Although many people praise him for preaching well, Pastor Meng believes that preaching is not done by man, but by the Spirit of God himself. The person is just a vessel used by God.
Noting that God's word is the most precious matter, Meng declared his intention of bringing believers to the Bible once again. A person will definitely experience change if he/she has been touched by the words.
He gave an example: Receiving a letter from his parents, a migrant worker should read the entire letter in order to fully understand what the parents meant. Meng stated that it was the same when reading the Bible, for many Christians, especially pastors, focus on a certain Scripture verse in sermons, ignoring the context of that verse. By contrast, some preachers can express God's will, while others only explain the topic. There is a major difference between these two.
In this regard, Pastor Meng suggested that people should have an understanding of the whole Bible, not just a few parts of it, or perhaps only a few books of the Bible. For example, he said, Proverbs 1-9 chapters should be read as a whole, since the context is vital. All of Proverbs 8 deals with only two core points, one of which is seeking wisdom, so it is difficult to convey God’s intention if the pastor misses the key points.
In the Bible, some long passages, even seven or eight chapters, address one core point, which believers or pastors may overlook when reading or preaching on the text. Therefore, Meng advises believers to read the Bible extensively in order to experience more from the Holy Spirit, for he has noticed that many are not familiar with the Scriptures.
He mentioned that a pastor should understand the context of the Scripture so that he will not interpret verses according to his own personal will. In addition, he emphasized that preachers must learn the principles of exegesis in order to better avoid random interpretations.
At the same time, Pastor Meng insisted that a pastor should preach sermons revealed and guided by the Holy Spirit. On the basis of his experience, he claimed that when a person reads the Bible thoroughly, the Bible itself will speak to him/her.
Meng said that sometimes he has had trouble reading the Bible. The Bible is not like an interesting novel, so he thought he needed to examine his heart and pray about this. The pastor concluded that a preacher must maintain an intimate relationship with God, for the closer this relationship is, the better and more correctly a human can interpret the holy writings.
- Translated by Abigail Wu