GOD CALLS AND EQUIPS PREACHERS
By LORETTA FULTON
In the second grade, Rick Atchley announced what he was going to be when he grew up. And, no, it wasn’t a fireman, policeman, or cowboy.
“I’m going to be a preacher,” he proclaimed.
For the past 40 years, Atchley, senior teaching minister at The Hills Church in North Richland Hills, has been making more proclamations. And those proclamations have all been good news, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Atchley, a 1978 graduate of Abilene Christian University, preached for 11 years at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene before moving to the Hills, where he has been the past 29 years.
Atchley was guest speaker Aug. 30 for a “Lunch and Learn” at ACU, “Why Preaching Matters,” presented by ACU’s Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. Atchley knew in second grade he was going to be a preacher. That calling comes to others later in life. But one thing future preachers all have in common is calling.
“God calls people to preach,” Atchley said, “and give them a message to bring.”
Atchley listed four reasons he believes preaching matters. The first is that he believes God thinks it matters. The second is that Jesus made preaching a priority.
“Even his critics acknowledged the power of his preaching,” Atchely said. “He was a brilliant preacher.”
Preachers are called to their position, but they aren’t called and then forgotten. The Holy Spirit, Atchley said, equips and annoints preachers and preaching.
“A man of God needs the spirit of God if the people of God are to hear the word of God,” he said.
The third reason preaching matters, Atchley said, is that the church needs more than learning, it needs leading. The church won’t grow, he said, unless it is motivated and captivated by a vision that is compelling. His idea of leading is to move people from one place to a better place.
And the fourth reason is that people need more than help, Atchley said. They need hope. Preaching keeps people afloat, he said. He told his mother’s battle with cancer than took her life.
When she awoke from exploratory surgery, Atchley could see that his father wasn’t going to be able to tell her the bad news, so Atchley stepped in. By that stage of her life, she had heard many sermons, although she came to the church later in life. She was able to face her death out of a deep reservoir of hope, Atchley said. He, his brother, and their father were grateful for her words after hearing the prognosis of a tough fight with no guarantee of the outcome.
“You know son,” she told Atchley, “either way, I win.”