The Priority of Preaching

 In Jason Bunger, Preaching & Teaching

As a seminary instructor, I often get asked, “What is the most important thing for a new pastor to do when going to a new church?”

My response is something like this:“Outside of caring for your own soul and your family, the most important thing to strive to preach well.”

As a student, not an expert, of expository preaching I have learned that preaching must drive the worship service and preparing to preach should be a major portion of a pastor’s weekly schedule.

Here are some theological and practical reasons of why I am insistent that preaching should be (alongside of prayer) the main priority of the local pastor and the local church.

  • Preaching is the avenue by which people come to faith. Paul says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
  • Preaching the scriptures correctly is the only time that a preacher can confidently say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Even the best preachers can be wrong about culture, vison, and contemporary issues. But if he gets the passage right, he can be confident that he has communicated what God has communicated. “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.”
  • Preaching is the only ministry where everyone in the church is engaged at the same time. Couples’ ministry is important, but primarily only for couples. Visitation is important, but only impacts those being visited. But preaching is the one conversation that everyone participates in at the same time as a family.
  • Preaching sets the pace for everything else in the church. If a church has poor preaching, you can anticipate that everything else in the church is going to be done poorly.
  • Preaching models how scripture is to be studied. I am always amazed at pastors who lecture their congregation about the importance of Bible study, but then do not preach from the Bible themselves. Preaching is the best opportunity to model for a congregation how to read, interpret and apply a passage of scripture.
  • Preaching gives the pastor the platform to model how to talk to people. An effective pastor demonstrates through his preaching how to:
    • treat others with compassion
    • extended forgiveness to deeply sinful people
    • receive forgiveness because we are deeply sinful people
    • build healthy relationships across ethnic, generational,
      and socio-economic lines
    • worship God with reverence
    • laugh at our own failings
    • wrestle with the tension of a Bible text
    • navigate the disappointments of life
    • have the courage to overcome insurmountable odds
  • Preaching is the one area that a pastor should be in control of doing to the best of his ability. A preacher cannot control everything that happens in a church. Every church has people who want to sing but cannot sing. Every church has a relationally challenged greeter. Every church has facilities that look less-than-perfect. Every church has building maintenance issues. But the pulpit is the one place where the preacher can serve God with excellence, correct his own mistakes and strive to get better every week. Every preacher has an “off week” occasionally. But the preacher ultimately will have influence over the ministry of the pulpit by his habits of study, prayerful lifestyle, and commitment to excellence.
  • Preaching should give people a thirst for God’s word. If preaching is done well, some people will desire a study scripture for themselves.
  • Preaching is not only commanded by God (2 Timothy 3:16), but also modeled throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.
  • Preaching is the only cure for Biblical illiteracy. Over the past 25 years, it has been said, “People no longer know the stories, teachings and message of the Bible. Therefore, preachers must preach less scripture and shorter sermons.” But to me, Biblical illiteracy encourage us to preach more and not less of scripture. How else will we become familiar with the passages unless someone preaches them?

I am convinced that there is no place where pastors have more influence and opportunity to proclaim the redemptive love of Christ than in the pulpit.

Let’s insist that preaching be our priority.

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