“What is the purpose of preaching?”

“The story is told of a homiletics professor who, many years ago, asked his classes, “What is the purpose of preaching?” His students would struggle valiantly to make adequate reply, but they never succeeded. Then, triumphantly, the professor would sing out, Scottish brogue and all, so I am told, “Gentlemen” … “the purpose of preaching is to raise the dead!” Perhaps the statement strikes us today as a bit florid and dramatic. Yet the professor was on to something that needs to be repeated again and again, I believe: When we preach, God registers his claim upon us. He breaks into the little kingdoms that we have built, in which we attempt to exercise our rule over people and things, and says, “Let God be God.” He disturbs us in our comforts and presumptions, and — for what cause save his own graciousness, none of us can guess — quickens our dead future. He does so with his Word” (Charles L. Bartow, The Preaching Moment: A Guide to Sermon Delivery, 48-49).