Monday, May 5, 2008

Pastoral Priorities – Part 1 – The Ministry of the Word

In Acts 6 a controversy arises in the Church. The Greek-speaking members of the church began to complain that their widows were being neglected. The twelve (Apostles) gathered with the church and made this announcement. “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” And again in verse 4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Many prominent leaders today would say (maybe only in their thoughts) that this is sheer lunacy. Preaching does not reach people today. They don’t want to hear authoritative pronouncements, they don’t believe in absolute truth. We cannot say 'thus says the Lord' rather we must begin a dialogue. We must give up on preaching and focus on being relational. We must focus on service ministries. And then after we have won their affection maybe we can sneak the Gospel through the back door.

I reject this paradigm. I do not reject being relational, I do not reject service ministries, or even having dialogues. But this attitude I reject. When confronted with a good thing (helping the Greek widows) the Apostles decided that when choices must be made that they must focus on the most important thing which is the ministry (preaching) of the word and prayer. Now I want to be clear that I don’t believe that pastors are the new Apostles. But I believe that here we are given the priorities for Church leaders, which are to begin with Preaching and Prayer (I will discuss prayer in the next post).

Now I am going close with a simple overview of what the New Testament has to say about preaching. For example we see that preaching was central to Jesus coming, that failing to preach the Gospel leads to being accursed, that Paul described preaching as a necessity. This brief survey shows us how central preaching is to the calling of a Pastor.

Luke 4:43 – but he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose."
Acts 10:42 - And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
Romans 15:20 - and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation,
1 Cor. 1:17 - For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Cor. 1:21 - For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
1 Cor. 9:16 - For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
Galatians 1:8 - But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:16 - was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;
Ephes. 3:8 - To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
2 Tim. 4:2 - preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.


Joshua Owen said...

Very good, brother. I might add one more. It is through the preaching of the word by a "crucified" minister that Jesus Christ is publicly portrayed as crucified, today! Galatians 3:1

Jamie Fugate said...

When I was thinking through this post I went to my Bible program and typed the word preach and I was blown away by how many times that single word was used. That was not including the other tenses of the word. So jsut that one sense was very confirming for me how central preaching is to the life of the church.