Preaching is the priority of Christian ministry. It is the most important aspect of ministry within the church because all other ministries are an outpouring of what is preached. The guiding of the Holy Spirit within the preaching ministry of the church is what builds up, encourages, strengthens, and enables the church to grow closer to God.
Preaching sets the tone for the discipleship and mission of the church. Preaching is how God intended for mankind to hear salvation, grow in the knowledge of him, and be conformed to his ways and into his likeness. As pastor-theologian J. I. Packer puts it, “The Bible is God preaching.” It is the job of the pastor to preach what God has already spoken in a way that is applicable and shapes the church through Scripture.
A healthy, God-inspired, expositional diet of preaching is what the church needs to both grow in size and spiritual maturity. Preaching must be orthodox because the Bible is inspired and inerrant so our theology must match what the Bible is saying. Preaching should be expositional because it exposes the church to the whole counsel of the Word of God. It also gives the church a way to hear directly from God.
Preaching is biblically commanded and encouraged. Preaching is the necessary means for the church to come to worship God. Preaching helps find the lost, redeem sinners to glory, strengthens the weary believer, and helps reveal the nature of God in a way that penetrates the heart, mind, and soul of the church.
Biblical Justification for the Primacy of Preaching
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”(Rom. 10:14-15, 17 ESV)
Preaching the Word of God is how sinners come to know and believe in God. Preaching the Word of God is commanded to us by God so that we may disciple, baptize, and spread the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth. Matt. 28:19-20a, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
It is through preaching that the commands that Christ gave to the apostles and disciples are conveyed to the rest of the world. It is through preaching that the seeds of discipleship are first planted and sown. It is also through preaching that the Gospel is proclaimed to all the nations of the world. Through preaching, the Great Commission is accelerated in this generation and the Kingdom of God is ushered in. Preaching must be done so that people hear the Gospel, learn about the Gospel, and respond to the Gospel.
The ultimate end of preaching is to display the glory of God. The easiest way for mankind to give God glory, honor, and praise is through preaching the very words God has already spoken in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 4:13, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak.”
As Christ followers, we are compelled to speak about our faith in him alone for the salvation of sins. In doing so we preach the words God proclaimed through the prophets and the other authors of the Scripture.
Preaching is the sole mission of the church. It is through preaching that people come to know Christ and hear the testimony of his redemptive work throughout history. In the book of Acts, we find that Paul the apostle is constantly preaching and sharing his testimony of how he came to know Jesus as his Savior on the road to Damascus. His conversion was so monumental that upon his eyes opening he went on to preach about the goodness of God, the holiness of Christ, and how Christ had saved him.
Paul never stopped proclaiming the Scriptures because he viewed such preaching as instrumental in saving men and women from eternal damnation in hell. Paul made it his life’s goal to preach the Gospel of Christ to all the people he could so that the glory of God would be made known. Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
God has invited us to join him in the greatest pursuit of all time. He has ordained preaching to be the vehicle in which the Gospel is proclaimed and heard. He has also ordained preaching as the sole tool of the church that influences all the other ministries of the church. Without a biblical preaching ministry, a church will severely fail in the Great Commission, fail in training her members in the Word of God, and eventually wither and die.
Every local church I’ve been a part of that embraced a robust understanding of the primacy of preaching has been thriving and continues to grow in influence, ministry, and size. Every church I’ve seen or heard of that did not embrace the biblical necessity for preaching is dead or dying a slow painful death.
Preaching the Word of God to the people of God is central to Scripture and to the mission of the church. If there are no preachers preaching then there are no churches worshipping. If there are no churches worshipping then God is not the object of the churches focus. When churches do not embrace a robustly biblical-theological ministry of preaching they do a disservice to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, betray their commitment to God, and fail to give God the glory for all the great things he has done.
Preaching is the ultimate form of worship. Through preaching the congregation has the Scriptures read and explained so they may learn and grow in knowledge of who God is. In turn, this enables the local church to make, mature, and multiply disciples to the glory of God.
James Forbis is a graduate of The University of Arkansas, a former Jr. High and High School football coach, and American history teacher. He is completing his M.DIV at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Great Commission Studies and Expository Preaching. He’s a self-proclaimed sweet tea connoisseur and Tex-Mex addict. Most Saturday’s you can find him cheering on his Arkansas Razorbacks, hiking or fishing, or reading up on his favorite subject, the Revolutionary War, or spending time with his wife.