“The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.” – Doug Wilson
As a pastor who is responsible for preaching every week in Southeast Los Angeles to a small local church, I found this quote encouraging. Many preachers preach for people to remember what is said. I confess I’d be discouraged if people didn’t remember the text, main points, main applications, or the topic. Many preachers are discouraged that the only thing remembered are the stories or jokes.
I want my church fam to remember my sermons. This desire is not a bad goal. But I don’t think it’s the main one. Tim Keller talks about changing people’s hearts on the spot. He often alludes to Lloyd-Jones goal of getting listeners to put their pens down and just listen because they are so gripped by what is being said in the moment. Jonathan Edwards speaks of raising the affections of the hearers as high as he can, provided they are only affected by the truth. The Apostle Paul wanted his hearers to know Jesus Christ and him crucified. He wanted them to see the Lord Jesus’ glory in a spiritual sense so that they would be changed from one degree of glory to the next.
So this quote from Doug Wilson encourages me to the more important goals of preaching. It’s not that they remember my main points, text, or topic. That’s a lot to remember over the years! The main goal is that they see the glory of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus and are changed, indeed, shaped, by what they see in the power of the omnipotent Holy Spirit. Besides, “the fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them” (Douglas Wilson).