Sunday, January 25, 2009

Preaching and Pastoral Care

This article was emailed to me by a friend. It is taken from Modern Reformation magazine. I would give credit to the author if I had the source information. However, this is too good and too convicting not to share. This paragraph explores the important relationship between expository preaching and pastoral care. It is not the last word, but certainly gives food for thought.

Theological principles such as these must impact praxis at the deepest level, even right down to issues of how preachers structure their week and organize their priorities. To listen and to listen well takes time. A lot of time. This means that where preachers do not protect sermon preparation time with prosecuting zeal, the end result of the sermon will be the work of those who speak before they listen. The sermon will reveal the kind of people who think they know best before they've heard both sides of an argument-the text will be handled in ways that ignore its details and nuances and miss its structure or surprises. One of the clearest signs of a sermon not born out of sensitive listening is that the congregation actually gets more Bible, not less, as the preacher draws on a reservoir of knowledge to speak about the text, expanding it, but does not explain the text, expounding it. (It is said that Winston Churchill once remarked after a lengthy address that he hadn't had time to prepare a short talk.) It is conceivable that the preacher's approach to the sermon text will go hand in hand with the approach to other facets of the ministry. Where the sermons are under-prepared and ill-conceived, so too pastoral relationships will often be underdeveloped and stunted, because genuine listening as a moral imperative is not being adopted as intrinsic to the theological task. The minister will very likely be hurried and busy, an activist, and on the fast-track to becoming a church manager doing God's work rather than a preacher speaking God's Word.

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