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QUESTION: Why Do We Need Preachers?


What Does the Bible Say About Preachers And Why We Need Them?

Actually, the New Testament says quite a lot about preachers and preaching. I did a search of the New Testament (New International Version) on these words: preach, herald, evangelist, preacher, evangelists, preachers, and preaching. They occur 75 times in 72 different verses from Matthew through 2 Peter. In the King James Version, the same words appear 80 times in 77 different verses. I did not include the word “pastor” in the search because the New Testament uses this word of the shepherds of the local congregation, also known as elders or overseers.

John the Baptist, Jesus, and all of the apostles were preachers – as well as many others. In Romans 10:14-17, Paul wrote:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Preaching has an important place in the plan of God. In 1 Corinthians 1:21-24 we read,

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Yet, there is little in the preaching of those in the early church that is exactly like preachers of today. Today, churches commonly “call” preachers whom they employ to deliver sermons to the church and, in most cases, to manage the affairs of the congregation. He becomes the public face of the church, with most members of the congregation (including its elders and deacons) taking a less public, background role. In the New Testament, preachers sometimes worked directly with a congregation, but more often than not they were on the front-line in church planting and evangelism in “unchurched” areas.

Personally, I believe that the development of a “professional” class of preachers in the church has some blessings, in that these men are usually (not always) more gifted and trained in the Scriptures than most members of the congregation. Yet, there is a down-side as well. The congregation often adopts an attitude that says, “Let the preacher do it.” Many Christians come to act as if they believe that their responsibility as a Christian is to give to pay the preacher – and little else. This generates a lethargic view of their relationship to the church – and to God.

Much more could be said along these lines, but remember: preaching is essential. How preachers are supported is a matter of expediency. Paul sometimes worked as a tent maker, supporting himself in his preaching ministry. At other times, he had support from other churches to continue his ministry on a “full-time” basis. There is nothing “wrong” with paying a man to preach. His work, however, would be much more effective if he were supported, not only financially, but by Christians who view themselves as partners with him in preaching the Word.

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