On Oct 9, Pastor Hong Guangliang from Calgary Chinese Christian Blessed Harvest Church gave a lecture in a church in Beijing and shared the "5 Perseverances for Preachers" based on his personal serving experience.
According to Pastor Hong Guangliang, he began his spiritual journey from Nanjing Theological Seminary on September 3, 1957 and he never left the house of God. By the same time next year it will be 60 years .Before he started the topic, he talked about the concept of "chuan dao ren", explaining the three characters which mean "Preach, Word, and Man."
To preach (chuan, 传) is a verb meaning to declare. Pastor Hong talked about it in three aspects: why, what and how. First, why do we need to preach? Pastor Hong believes we need to give out what we received. He used the examples of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea: the source of both seas is the River of Jordan. The Sea of Galilee is living water with water coming in and going out. However, for the Dead Sea there's no life but there's still water. Pastor Hong said that if you want a living faith, you need to preach though not necessarily full time. Second, what do we preach? Men can only preach what's inside of them, not something they don't have. Christians need to preach God's grace, the good news, and their own testimonies. Third, how do we preach? There are many ways such as through word of mouth, sermons, words, and media.
There are many forms in the Word (dao). Pastor Hong said that the Bible is the Word of God but that God's Word is beyond the Bible. The universe exists by the Word of God, so it is also the Word of God; the Word of God also lies in the sermon performed by preachers on stage, is shown in the holy rituals, and most importantly, the Word made flesh: Jesus Christ.
Man (ren) is receiver, a target of the preaching. Pastor Hong thinks that the man can be a person or a group, but the most accurate definition would be the world.
After the sharing on the thoughts of preachers, Pastor Hong started the 5 Perseverance of Preachers: Faith, Seminary, literacy, life, and body. The perseverance that he said means persistence and defense which is something the preacher must hold on to.
The first "perseverance" is faith. Preachers need to know who they believe, because if they don't believe how can they convince others? If they don't have pure faith, what they preach would be chaotic. Preachers should absorb God's Word and let it become their strength instead of becoming a religious trashcan filled with bits of everything. Before preaching, preachers should steady their faith and have good relationships with God.
The second is seminary. Faith is the essence, and preachers must have it and know how to preach their faith. There are many disciplines in seminary, such as introduction to the Old Testament and New Testament, Bible history, bible geography, bible philosophy, something about education and women's ministry, and church development. Preachers don't need to master everything but need to know at least a little.
The third is literacy. Jesus proclaimed through fishing to fishermen and through sowing to farmers and it was this literacy that makes the receivers open. Pastor Hong thinks that it takes more than enthusiasm and gifts for praying to preach. Maybe it worked in the older generation in the rural areas but not in the complicated modern society. It takes cultural literacy today. He shared the 5 relations between Jesus Christ and literacy: Jesus Christ is above literacy and Christianity is about salvation instead of literacy; Christianity can accept literacy; Christianity accepts literacy but Jesus Christ is above literacy and literacy is in service of Jesus Christ; literacy is above Jesus Christ and Christianity is in literacy; both Christianity and literacy are gifts from God and they complement and support each other.
The fourth is life. Preachers should not only have religious knowledge but also live religious lives. It is not right to skip the service just to think they know everything the church presents. Just like the preachers can't proclaim to be harmonious but curse themselves. Preachers should maintain good habits in life.
The fifth is body. Preachers should care for the temple of God and stay healthy. Even though the bible says "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" the body is also important. Pastor Hong thinks pastors don't need to live an ascetic life to be spiritual and he disagrees when some people consider the pastors unspiritual wearing jeans and sleeveless shirts, playing basketball and riding bikes.
Pastor Hong said that the message was based on his many years of serving hoping that young people could understand what it means to be a preacher. Lay a solid foundation of faith, learn from seminary and literacy, be doers of the Word and not hearers only, and care for the body which is God's temple.