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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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30 YEARS OF PREACHING

Somebody observed that preachers ought to be as smart as the average washing machine -- after it spins dry it shuts off automatically.  Preachers may be dry at times, but as regards the preaching of the gospel they dare not shut off or shut up!  The Lord gave the church its mandate and marching orders in Mark 16:15-16:  "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Though I don't remember the exact date, this year marks 30 years since the first time I attempted to preach a gospel sermon. If my math is anywhere near correct, these past 30 years I have taught/preached approximately 4,000 "lessons" and sermons, not including numerous articles written for church bulletins, publications, church camp, radio preaching, etc.  When will I shut off?  Only Heaven knows.  All I know is I continue to find preaching to be the greatest challenge and most rewarding task I could ever take on.  A few things I have learned in 30 years of preaching include:

  • I have learned the preacher's life is a sweet agony — at times bringing tears of joy and at others tears of sorrow and grief
  • I have learned the preacher's wife is his most important source of help, strength and encouragement (except for the Lord).
  • I have learned there are a few "experts" in the pews who should be doing the preaching since they know more about preaching and how it ought to be done than the man in the pulpit, though they have never once preached a sermon.
  • I have learned that the best people on earth are in the church of the Lord.
  • I have learned that not everybody who comes to church is there to worship and serve God.
  • I have learned that preaching the gospel can change lives when people allow it to.
  • I have learned that preaching the gospel cannot change anyone's life until they allow it to.
  • I have learned that I am the best and most powerful preacher some people have ever heard.
  • I have learned that I am the worst and most pathetic preacher some people have ever heard.
  • I have learned that as a preacher I can't possibly please everyone.
  • I have learned that as a preacher I can please God.
  • I have learned that people can take "hard preaching" if it comes from a preacher with a "soft heart."
  • I have learned that preachers and elders and deacons and members sometimes fail, but God never does.
  • I have learned that the water of the world's sea sometimes leaks into the old ship of Zion (the church).
  • I have learned that hell itself can't sink the old ship of Zion!
  • I have learned that sometimes problems and offenses between brethren won't die until they do.
  • I have learned that some people in the church seem willing to tolerate any kind of sin.
  • I have learned that some people in the church seem unwilling to tolerate any kind of sin.
  • In 30 years of preaching, with all its inevitable ups and downs and twists and turns and thrills and chills, I have learned that, like almost all the sincere preachers I know, I preach because I can't do anything else (see 1 Corinthians 9:16)!!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ