THE PRIORITY OF PREACHING
By Andrew E. Courtis
It is sad to see how many pastors have departed from giving preaching a priority in their ministry. Preaching in many cases has been substituted for performance related activities (drama or music) or a placating to societies priorities. To stand before a congregation and proclaim what God has said in His word has been considered by some to be old fashioned and irrelevant.
I think that is a detrimental mindset and not in harmony with the teaching of the word of God. We need to remember that the preaching of the Scriptures (and listening to them) is a privileged task. Unlike giving a mere speech, the preacher is speaking, explaining and proclaiming the revealed words of God. In 2 Timothy 4:2 – a classic text for preachers – Paul commands Timothy to “preach the word.”
It is the task of the preacher to proclaim them. Paul does not command Timothy to preach tradition, mysticism, social justice, humanism, experience or pragmatism. Instead, he explicitly commands, “preach the word.” The “word” here is a reference to the Scriptures, which he described as “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is the preacher’s task to take the Scriptures (God’s word), rightly handle them (2 Tim. 2:15), and then preach them. What a thought! Our Infinite Sovereign Lord God has spoken, and the preacher is given the task of being His spokesman. Why would he do anything else? The answer is a departure from the priority of doctrine. Paul warns that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). This is happening more and more.
Let us remember, that when the preacher comes before his congregation, it is his mandate to proclaim God’s word.