Even if you're new to Hiawatha Church, you've probably already learned that we highly value preaching. Every Sunday you'll hear a 45 minute sermon (many even longer). We're passionate about preaching because we believe in a God who speaks, and the Bible teaches that it is through hearing the gospel that people come to faith and repentance. Romans 10 says, How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
We believe that everyone needs to hear the gospel, whether it is for the first time or the millionth. So preaching the Gospel in a corporate setting on a Sunday morning is both for the believer and the unbeliever alike.
As we preach to those who already believe, we are reminding them of who they are in Christ and who they are called to be, reorienting them to the gospel that continues to save them daily. The preacher heralds the good news (that is what gospel means) of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death for the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God. The true effect of gospel preaching is the same for both believers and nonbelievers in many ways. Both can and will be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, both are able to hear, learn, and believe the truth of scripture and the gospel, and both are called to repentance. Nonbelievers are called to respond to Jesus for the first time every week and are told of what spiritual riches can be theirs if they repent and believe in Jesus.
Although preaching in general can be quite missional by its very nature (meaning a way in which people can hear about Jesus), at Hiawatha we choose to be very intentional in making it even more accessible to who might be more biblically illiterate. We want there to be no stumbling blocks aside from Jesus and his grace. As Tim Keller says, we preach and speak positively about our city and neighborhood, we speak in a language that is accessible to nonbelievers and isn’t filled with pious talk, unnecessarily technical terms, or Christian jargon (and when we do use theological and biblical words, we take time to define them carefully), and we connect with the culture of South Minneapolis to build bridges and show how Christ is the ultimate solution to their desires and problems.
We also aim to be very welcoming and hospitable in our preaching. We welcome visitors, tell them we’re very glad they decided to show up, and tell them that it is okay to just be checking out Hiawatha Church, Jesus, and Christianity as a whole. We recap and review where we’ve been in our sermon series and describe in detail what the gospel is, how to respond after the sermon, and that there will be people available for questions and prayer after the service.
We make a point to make Jesus the hero each week and not ourselves. We are transparent and vulnerable in our own depravity, weakness, sin and need for a savior rather than put up a façade of self-righteousness, superiority, and perfection. We preach as though nonbelievers and skeptics are among us because they always are. This also tells our regulars that Hiawatha is a place where they can bring their unbelieving friends, that it is a safe place for those with questions and doubts, and that their questions will begin to be answered by a community of people who care about them.
Finally we work with all of our might to show how Jesus' work on the cross is the goal and finish line of all scripture - to take our text and make a bee-line to the cross (Charles Spurgeon). We not only want people to hear about grace and be saved, but to also get a glimpse of the right way to read their Bibles for themselves when they're doing that throughout the week.
SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR