By: Dr. Clark Armstrong
The passage of the New Testament used in many denominations to ordain ministers starts with “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Preaching is a prominent part of a pastor’s job description. The early church leaders appointed deacons so that they could devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
In terms of the Old Testament images (Priest, Prophet, Shepherd and King), preaching is a part of the prophetic role. The prophets engaged in both foretelling (predicting the future) and forthtelling (addressing God’s will for the people in the present). Sometimes they engaged in both tasks at the same time in what has been called a telescopic vision (Isaiah often did this). The New Testament task of preaching would describe (in large part) the forthtelling part of their ministry.
The word “preach” literally means to proclaim. It encompasses the preaching, teaching, and evangelism parts of a pastor’s job description. Paul addresses this as he writes in his two letters to one of the young pastors (Timothy) he is mentoring:
- Devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Tim. 4:13).
- The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Tim. 5:17).
- The Lord’s servant must be…able to teach. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct (2 Tim. 2:24).
- Do the work of an evangelist; discharge all the duties of your ministry (2 Tim. 4:5—coming in the ordination passage just after the mandate to preach the Word).
The pastor is the primary person responsible for preaching the word to a particular congregation of people in a certain context on a regular basis. As such, he or she leads the church in preaching for all services or planning who does. This includes Sunday morning worship, other services or programing, and the Midweek Renewal for adults, if there is one.
Much of a long-term preaching ministry consists of teaching the word, evangelism, and even vision casting. A pastor’s preaching should certainly be well-saturated with love, priestly elements, and shepherding. Teaching, in the pastor’s job description, includes discipling new and growing Christians, developing Home Churches, Bible Studies or Education Classes as needed, and Baptism or Membership Class. Lay leaders or staff can be trained to lead these ministries, but the responsibility biblically still comes back to the pastor.
There are four areas of evangelism in the local church that the pastor should coordinate and model. The first is personal evangelism. Part of the responsibility to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12) is to make sure that anyone and everyone in the church could lead someone to the Lord in their one on one relationships.
A second area for the pastor’s concern is public evangelism through the pastor’s preaching and revivals that use God-called evangelists. The other two significant areas are community outreach and missions’ involvement. Every local church should not only care about reaching their Jerusalem, but also their Judea, Samaria, and the world for Christ.
These are considered, as well, to be a part of the preaching or prophetic responsibilities of a pastor as he or she proclaims or forthtells the gospel. May the Lord help us to give our preaching ministry our greatest attention as the early church leaders did. May we preach the Word and be ready to do so at all times (1 Tim. 4:2-3).
This article is the third in a series of articles written on The Job Description of a Pastor.
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